Alfredo Falcone/Associated Press
The rescheduling of the 2020 French Open on the tennis calendar provides the players in the men’s and women’s singles draws with a new set of challenges at Roland Garros.
The weather in Paris in late September and early October is much different than the May conditions players are used to. It will force even the best clay-court players, including 12-time champion Rafael Nadal, to adjust throughout the competition.
Nadal is the only player with an opportunity to repeat as Roland Garros champion. Defending women’s champion Ashleigh Barty opted not to participate.
Nadal’s top challenges will come from Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem, who recently joined the list of men’s Grand Slam winners.
Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza are the favorites in the women’s draw, but there are plenty of other contenders with a shot.
The complete draws for the men and women can be found on RolandGarros.com.
2020 French Open Information
Dates: Sunday, September 27, to Sunday, October 11
TV: Tennis Channel (starting at 5 a.m. ET from September 27 to October 9); NBC (October 10-11, 9 a.m. ET)
Live Stream: TennisChannel.com, NBCSports.com, NBC Sports app and Peacock.
Nadal is the most successful men’s clay-court player ever, but the 12-time champion is concerned about the new conditions the players will deal with over the next two weeks.
“Situation is special,” Nadal said, per The Guardian’s Tumaini Carayol. “Conditions probably are the most difficult conditions for me ever in Roland Garros for so many different facts. Ball completely different. Ball is super slow, heavy. It’s very cold. Slow conditions.”
The Spanish southpaw faces a more difficult road to the final from the bottom half of the bracket than No. 1 seed Djokovic.
Nadal could face Thiem, whom he has defeated in the last two French Open finals, in the semifinals, and he may have to go through U.S Open finalist Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals. The sixth-seeded Zverev reached the final eight in the last two French Opens and is one of two men to reach the semifinals at both majors in 2020. Thiem is the other.
As long as Thiem gets past Marin Cilic in the first round, he should comfortably make it past the fourth round.
The 2020 U.S. Open champion could face a tricky quarterfinal against the experienced Gael Monfils or Diego Schwartzman, who recently beat Nadal on clay in Rome.
Djokovic appears to have an easier path to the final since the other top seeds in his draw have not had as much success on clay.
Daniil Medvedev has not won a match at the French Open, and Matteo Berrettini has not advanced past the third round on the Paris clay.
Although Nadal is the king of the red surface, Djokovic sits in a better position to claim the final major crown of 2020 thanks to his favorable draw.
The women’s singles draw should be much more competitive than the men’s.
There is a high chance a third different major winner of 2020 is named after two weeks in Paris. U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka is not playing, and Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin has not made it past the fourth round in Paris.
If that occurs, it will mark the fourth year in a row in which no woman won multiple majors. Angelique Kerber was the last to do so in 2016.
Kerber resides in one of three sections of the draw with multiple Grand Slam winners. Two of those are positioned in the bottom half of the bracket, which is the tougher of the two sides. Kerber, Petra Kvitova and Madison Keys are in Section 7, while Jelena Ostapenko and Sloane Stephens start out of Section 8. Muguruza and Kenin are the two other major winners who will try to work their way out of the treacherous bottom half.
Halep has a much easier road through her portion of the bracket, and she will likely be favored if she faces No. 5 seed Kiki Bertens in the final eight. Bertens lost in the first week of the French Open in each of the last three years.
All of the attention in the top half will be paid to the portion that includes Victoria Azarenka, Serena and Venus Williams and Yulia Putintseva.
Azarkena, Serena Williams, Putintseva and Tsvetana Pironkova all made the U.S. Open quarterfinals, and only one will make it to the final eight in Paris.
If those players are forced into long, three-set battles in the first week, it could play in Halep’s favor when the field dwindles to single digits.
Halep is one of the most experienced clay-court players and won the 2018 French Open. She is also coming off a triumph in Rome at the primary tune-up to Roland Garros.
If the top-seeded Romanian replicates the form from Rome in Paris, she should come away with her third Grand Slam title.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
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