French Open draw winners and losers
PARIS -- Top seeds and defending champions Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams, who were both present to assist with the 2014 French Open draw ceremony, were likely not thrilled with how their fortunes played out as the chips were pulled.
On the men's side, Nadal saw Stan Wawrinka, David Ferrer and Andy Murray land in his half, with No. 2 Novak Djokovic drawing Roger Federer, Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic. For the women, Williams drew Maria Sharapova in her quarter, and Agnieszka Radwanska and Angelique Kerber in her half. Li Na, Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova and Jelena Jankovic are in the bottom half of the draw.
With all the names placed, here are the draw winners and losers:
Roger Federer: There's no doubt the sleep-deprived dad is pleased that he was drawn opposite Rafael Nadal in Novak Djokovic's half, with a quarter that includes a second-round match against a qualifier. He could play No. 6 Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals, and John Isner, Tommy Robredo, Ernests Gulbis, Mikhail Youzhny, Dmitry Tursunov and Roberto Bautista Agut are the remaining seeded players in his quarter. Gulbis and Berdych could give him a challenge, but this is as good as it gets for Federer to make the semifinals, where he could face Djokovic.
Andy Murray: The expectations for Murray on clay are always tempered, but he played some of his best tennis of late in the Italian Open, where he pushed Nadal to three sets in the quarterfinals. His draw gives him a great opportunity to make the quarterfinals, where he may meet No. 3 Wawrinka. Philipp Kohlschreiber could test him in the third round, but the German is in the midst of a deep run in at the Dusseldorf Open and could be fatigued by the time he arrives in Paris. Murray could also play No. 12 Richard Gasquet, who is struggling with injury, before the quarterfinals.
Agnieszka Radwanska: Like Murray, No. 3 Radwanska isn't one to bring her best game on clay, but her draw gives her a shot at the semifinals. She's in Serena's half, but leads a soft quarter anchored by Kerber, who's struggling with her form since sustaining a back injury, on the other side. The most dangerous player in her quarter is Carla Suarez Navarro, who lucked out by being drawn against two qualifiers in the first two rounds. Eugenie Bouchard and Flavia Pennetta could also spoil the party, though Bouchard still hasn't proved herself reliable on clay. However, Radwanska should be concerned about the weather -- rain is in the forecast throughout the first week, and heavy, slow conditions do not suit her game at all.
Simona Halep: The No. 4 seed was drawn in Li's half, and tops a quarter that includes a slew of talented but unpredictable players, including Kvitova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Sloane Stephens. The toughest opposition for Halep -- who has never made it past the second round at Roland Garros -- will be Ana Ivanovic. The two could meet in the quarterfinals, and Halep easily beat Ivanovic in the Madrid quarterfinals two weeks ago.
Maria Sharapova: When it comes to the ultimate loser in the draw sweepstakes, Sharapova sweeps all the awards. After going 12-1 in clay-court tournaments this season and reaching the French Open final last year, she's the second-favorite to win behind Serena. But as the No. 7 seed, she landed in Serena's quarter. Sharapova has lost only four matches on clay over the last three seasons, and three of those losses came to Serena, including last year's final. In short, this is the worst possible draw for Sharapova, who is projected to face Serena as early as the quarterfinals. The upside for Sharapova? Serena is at her most vulnerable before the semifinals of any tournament and should an upset occur early, the draw quickly becomes a smooth ride for the Russian.
Rafael Nadal: Let's preface this by saying that Nadal is still Nadal, and when the King of Clay is playing well, no one can match him on the surface except Novak Djokovic. But with questions about his confidence and game coming into the tournament, Nadal's draw isn't easy. He could play one of the ATP's big hitters in rising star Dominic Thiem in the second round. Thiem knocked out Wawrinka in stunning fashion in the Madrid Open a few weeks ago. A rematch of last year's French Open final could come in the quarterfinals, with No. 5 David Ferrer landing in Nadal's quarter. In fact, two of the men who beat Nadal on clay over the last month -- Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro -- are in his quarter. His projected semifinal opponent is Wawrinka. Federer would have been the easier path there.
Serena Williams: It's more accurate to describe Serena's draw as "unfortunate" rather than tough. She could face Venus in the third round -- though the older Williams sister has a tough draw with Belinda Bencic in the first round and Zheng Jie likely in the second -- and then the quarterfinal against Sharapova looming. She hasn't lost to Sharapova in 10 years, but with clay quickly becoming the Russian's best surface, the possibilities of an upset -- even if slim -- are there.
Ana Ivanovic: Much like Sharapova, Ivanovic comes into Paris on form and poised to make a run to the final, but her draw is full of landmines. She opens against France's Caroline Garcia, who is playing top-20 tennis, and she then could face another up-and-comer in No. 38 Elina Svitolina. Her third round would likely come against the always dangerous and upset-ready Lucie Safarova, before a fourth-round encounter against either Kvitova or Kuznetsova. If she gets through all that, Halep's waiting in the quarterfinals.
Tough first-round matches
Not everyone got Suarez Navarro's luck of drawing two qualifiers in the first two rounds. Here are the toughest first-round matchups:
- Grigor Dimitrov vs. Ivo Karlovic
- Stan Wawrinka vs. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez
- Richard Gasquet vs. Bernard Tomic
- Lleyton Hewitt vs. Carlos Berlocq
- Milos Raonic vs. Nick Kyrgios
- Kei Nishikori vs. Martin Klizan
- Marin Cilic vs. Pablo Andujar
- Venus Williams vs. Belinda Bencic
- Ana Ivanovic vs. Caroline Garcia
- Madison Keys vs. Sara Errani
- Samantha Stosur vs. Monica Puig
- Camila Giorgi vs. Bojana Jovanovski
- Elena Vesnina vs. Christina McHale
- Sloane Stephens vs. Peng Shuai
- Caroline Wozniacki vs. Yanina Wickmayer