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French Open 2015 men's preview: Nadal gets tough draw
2:21 | Men's Tennis
French Open 2015 men's preview: Nadal gets tough draw
Friday May 22nd, 2015

SI.com's Jon Wertheim breaks down the men's seeds at the French Open. Read on for the dark horses, top first-round matchups and predictions, and find the women's seed report here. 

1. Novak Djokovic

It’s all about that quarter. You hate to say this is Djokovic’s “tournament to lose.” But, well, let's put it this way: he will be profoundly dispirited if he doesn't take the title and, in turn, the career Slam. All but unbeatable in 2015, he’s taken down all comers on the clay; often without being pressed to play his best tennis. And his biggest threat to win—the guy who’s repeatedly beaten him in Paris—is not on his game. Give Nadal the proper respect for his play in Paris over the past decade. But Djokovic is a heavy favorite.

2. Roger Federer

He might win another Slam. But it's unlikely to come on clay, a surface that demands too much from him physically. One worries about that second rounder against Granollers. He has a real chance at the final—as evidenced, most recently, by his play in Rome. But hard to see him grinding down Djokovic.

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3. Andy Murray

A late bloomer in terms of clay, but he comes in on a two-tournament win streak, including a rout of Nadal in Madrid. Having bailed (not unwisely) on Rome, he comes in rested. He has never reached a final in Paris—but this could be the year for that.

4. Tomas Berdych

Still looking for his first Slam. But, quietly, the Berd-man has been playing top-shelf tennis this year. He has a big opportunity here. His shots are flatter than frat house beer—which doesn't always work well on clay. And over five sets, he can have a hard time sustaining focus. But a semifinal run is hardly out of the question.

5. Kei Nishikori

The optimist: fine clay court player who can bring his speed and two-handed backhand to bear on clay. The pessimist: despite his ascent, at some point he needs to step up and win one of these majors—or the hype will get stale.

6. Rafael Nadal

Well….Hanged, drawn and quartered with Djokovic. Jarring to see him seeded at six, especially in Paris. (And, mind you, he moved up a peg after Milos Raonic withdrew.) But he’s The King until he’s officially dethroned. Djokovic is our favorite. Nadal is second.

7. David Ferrer

A finalist two years ago, Ferrer is a player to be admired—perhaps more than ever. The Fitbit gets a workout every time he takes the court. But eventually the tires have to go bald. Don’t they?

8. Stan Wawrinka

On the plus side, it won’t take much to exceed last year’s performance (a first round loss.) Also on the plus side: he’s proven to himself that he has the capacity to win majors. More plus: he is coming off a defeat of Nadal. But overall, his play— amid disruptions in his personal life— has been dismal in 2015, including a loss Thursday in Geneva.

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9. Marin Cilic

U.S. Open champ deserves credit for rehabbing his game. And he is a better clay courter than hit-flat hitting, defense-less tennis would suggest. But you wonder about his health, especially on such a demanding surface.

10. Grigor Dimitrov

See Nishikori and Raonic. All the shots, but the wires still don’t quite connect. Like most artists and stylists, clay is not his best surface. Worry about that first rounder with Jack Sock.

11. Feliciano Lopez

You have to like a 33-year-old, net-rushing Spaniard who plays top 10 tennis. Ironically, he’s better equipped to win Wimbledon than the French.

12. Gilles Simon

Not a threat, but it's a testament to tennis that the sport can accommodate his minimalist game.

13. Gael Monfils

A wild card with a main draw ranking. Who the hell knows with Monfils. But it will be fun to watch regardless.

14. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Sadly, J-WT seems to have entered his past-his-prime phase. In a team sport, he could enjoy the next five years in another role, using his athleticism and playing limited minutes to preserve his always-fragile health. Tennis affords no such luxury.

15. Kevin Anderson

A pro’s pro who could up his seeding but will otherwise look forward to Wimbledon.

16. John Isner

The old Isner cut-and-paste. His success will depend on a) the draw b) his return game c) his ability to play efficiently and avoid the epic matches that sap his reserves. Nice run in 2014 can be replicated. But we worry about that first rounder against Andres Seppi.

Seeds 17-32

David Goffin

An excellent player who now needs to show it at a major. Bonus points for the mustache.

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Tommy Robredo

Always good for an epic match in Paris. And credit the veteran Spaniard for getting his game back to this point at his age.

Richard Gasquet

He won a tune-up and remains a stylish shotmaker nonpareil. But he also remains an unreliable player, who’s now getting up in there in age. Factoid: since 2008, he’s lost in the fourth round of more than half the Slams he’s entered.

Pablo Cuevas/Leonard Mayer

Two Argentine-born sluggers (Cuevas now plays for Uruguay) both playing the best tennis of their careers.

Ernests Gulbis

The wheels haven’t simply come off. They’ve gotten the parking boot. But he deserves mention by dint of his semifinal run in 2015.

Ivo Karlovic

Have serve, will make life difficult for opponents.

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Guillermo Garcia Lopez

Precisely the kind of player who can knife his way into the second week.

Fabio Fognini

The wins over Nadal have obscured his ranking drop.

Nick Kyrgios

First time seeded at a Slam, already has wins over Nadal and Federer.

Dark Horse Stable

Jack Sock: Ascending American whose favorite surface is clay. Alas, he plays Dimitrov off the bat.

Jiri Vesely: As his movement improves, so do his results.

Pablo Andujar: Runnin’ Andujar (as opposed to Joaquin Andujar) is all about the clay.

Dominic Thiem: Too good a player to be ranked No. 49.

Borna Coric: The best teenager in the world?

Alexandr Dolgopolov: Ranking of 80 earlier this month is brutal; needs to become a better player at Majors. But lots of talent and deceptive power.

Steve Darcis: Nice to see him back in the mix.

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First round matches to watch:

Grigor Dimitrov v. Jack Sock: Shame it had to come so early.

Borna Coric v. Sam Querrey: Stylistically could scarcely be more different.

Vesely v. Leonardo Mayer: Rough first rounder for two guys playing top-20 level tennis this year.

Tiafoe v. Klizan: Young American starts against battle-worn lefty.

First Round Upset Special

Sock has a shot at Dimitrov.

Doubles winner

The Bryans Bros, Bob and Mike. Until proven otherwise.

Semifinals

Berdych d. Federer

Djokovic d. Murray

Final

Djokovic d. Berdych

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