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Andy Roddick: The most wide-open Roland-Garros for 20 years

28 May | BY Andy Roddick | MIN READ TIME |
Andy Roddick: The most wide-open Roland-Garros for 20 years

The former world No. 1 and Betway ambassador gives his thoughts on the men's and women's singles at the French Open.

Men’s event wide open

For me, this is the most open Roland-Garros in two decades. The current betting favourite – Carlos Alcaraz – has barely played tennis in the past six weeks with a forearm injury, Novak Djokovic entering a 250 the week before a slam shows a level of concern, and the third favourite is Jannik Sinner, who is dealing with something that they saw on an MRI with a hip, which has all been pretty vague. 

Alexander Zverev enters the conversation after his win in Rome but his trial starts the first Friday of Paris. So this feels as wide open since maybe the early 2000s.

So many unknowns about the top players 

My good friend Paul Annacone always says: “bet against the legends at your own peril”. But can you guess when it comes to health? Throughout Rafa’s career, the three-out-of-five-sets format has been very good for him. But is five sets good for him now? I don’t know. 

I like the fact that Novak is getting some reps this week in match conditions. I think we’ve taken for granted these guys just pitching up without a lot of matches and being great. We almost feel entitled to it. But that’s not normal, right? 

Just enjoy watching Nadal in Paris 

When I came on Tour, the all-time slams leader was Pete Sampras at 14. Rafa’s matched him in one event, and is still not even the all-time slams leader. That’s absurd. That doesn’t make sense. I think any tournament where you walk past the statue of yourself while still an active player…It’s remarkable.

The most beautiful thing about Madrid for Rafa was that, at some point during that tournament, we stopped looking for injuries and health and just started watching him play tennis again. I hope that’s the case at Roland Garros. And I hope that we all as a tennis community get the chance to celebrate him.

Paul and Fritz could make semis

Tommy Paul has made the semis of a slam, and he’s reached the semis in two of the last five Masters 1000s, including Indian Wells. He’s just getting better all the time. And these guys are committed to actually playing the clay court season, which dummies like me never did. I don’t think it’s ridiculous to say these guys get to the quarters or a semi. Ben Shelton is also there – he didn’t have a passport 18 months ago and he’s like 15 in the world now.  

Hard to bet against Iga Swiatek 

No one’s unstoppable but Iga’s as close as you can get to it on this surface. I won’t bet against her in any of her matches – no matter what happens – at Roland-Garros. There’s a small chance I’m wrong but she is dominant.

Iga likes the reps going in, so winning in Madrid and Rome serves her well. Where we’ve seen her take her bumps is if she’s undercooked, like going into the US Open or going into Australia, because there’s only one event before. I think she benefits from a long lead up. Anyone who doesn’t choose Iga is just trying to be edgy and different.

Sabalenka and Rybakina the main threats

Aryna Sabalenka made two finals in Madrid and Rome and she had three match points against Iga in Madrid. Elena Rybakina has won her last two against Iga on clay – in Stuttgart and Rome last year – and has a 4-2 to head-to-head record overall. Rybakina has a bigger delta between her top level and her bottom but when she’s good, she is a brutal match-up for the other top players. 

Gauff dealing with serving issues

There are concerns with Coco’s serve. Her first serve looked good in Rome, but her second serve is an issue right now. I think there’s a technical thing that is hard to work on when you’re trying to win matches in real time. 

But she does an amazing job of knowing there’s an issue, dealing with it, and still getting the better side of most results. She’s as good as I’ve ever seen in a young player figuring a way around something that is a problem.

Collins the live outsider

Danielle Collins won Charleston, pushed Sabalenka in Madrid and made the semis of Rome. She’s the one player the top four probably don’t want in their draw in the round of 16. She’s retiring at the end of the year – we had Danielle on our podcast 10 days ago and I suggested that she seems to work well on a deadline!

Conditions also a big factor

Weather’s massive. In warm conditions more people can fake clay court competence. The slower it gets, the more the movement matters, the more the ability to build points matters. If you were to rub the clay in Rome between your fingers, it would feel more like salt. At Roland-Garros, it’s more like baking powder. So movement matters, it’s a little more slippery. It really benefits the natural clay-court movers and kind of exposes the rest of us who were imposters.

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Andy Roddick

Andy Roddick

A US Open champion and former world No. 1 who won 32 ATP Tour titles.

Andy Roddick

Andy Roddick

A US Open champion and former world No. 1 who won 32 ATP Tour titles.

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