bracketology: in the french open final, nadal will defeat nole in four



Thanks to our buddy Chris for helping us break down the men’s singles draw of the 2009 French Open. See his predictions — including a Nadal/Nole final — after the cut…

Top Half

First Quarterfinalist – Seeds: Nadal (1), Ferrer (14), Soderling (23) and Karlovic (26). If Rafa doesn’t charge his way through, consider it the biggest upset of the year.

Matches we’re eyeing:

Karlovic vs. Hewitt: Hewitt won the clay court tournament in Houston last month without dropping a set and has made it to at least the R16 in six of his nine visits to Roland Garros (twice a quarterfinalist). I think Hewitt’s game on clay is particularly underrated, but the questions as to his motivation — especially with the new family, management lawsuit, etc. — still exist. Karlovic in his 5 tries at RG has never made it past R2. My money’s on Hewitt to take this one … probably with at least one tiebreak set thrown in there. (Note: Hewitt actually needed three tiebreaks for his 6-7 (1), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-4, 6-3 win.)

Second Quarterfinalist – Seeds: Verdasco (8), Davydenko (10), Wawrinka (17), Almagro (31). My money’s on Verdasco.

Verdasco is undoubtedly playing some of his best tennis with his triumphant run to the semis in Melbourne… and — get this — has made the quarters in his last six Master Series events (all five this year, and Hamburg last year)… and has lost only eight matches this year: six of those to the Big Four (other 2 losses to Gonzalez in the quarters of Barcelona and to Radek Stepanek in the Brisbane final).

Davydenko seems to have recovered from his foot injury and the whole gambling debacle and is on the rise back up.

Wawrinka made it to the semis of Monte Carlo, losing to Djokovic in 3, but took out Federer in two on his way there, and had two three-set losses to Del Potro in R16 at Madrid and Rome. He could pose Verdasco the most trouble, but the strength of Verdasco’s earlier wins in the tournament and the confidence high he seems to be riding will get him through in four.

Almagro has been a threat on clay in recent years and made it to the quarters last year… but has lost his first round match at all four Masters Events he’s entered this year.

Matches we’re eyeing:

Almagro vs. Calleri: See above. Almagro in 4.

Gulbis vs. Querrey: Gulbis has disappointed a lot of people this year and underperformed the potential he showed last year. He’s failed to make it past the second round in every tournament he’s played this year. Querrey upset Stepanek in Madrid, and notched wins over Ferrer and Almagro in his run to the Auckland final (losing to Del Potro). Querrey in three.

Third Quarterfinalist – Seeds: Murray (3), Cilic (13), Stepanek (18), Lopez (28). I was ready to give Murray an early loss but he’s got few threats. He makes it through to the quarters.

Matches we’re eyeing:

Murray vs. Chela: I’ve just always liked Chela. He hasn’t done much since being injured a few years ago though.

Fourth Quarterfinalist – Seeds: Simon (7), Gonzalez (12), Safin (20), Hanescu (30). Simon isn’t immune to the curse of French players underperforming at Roland Garros. Gonzalez won Vina del Mar and made it to the semis in Barcelona (d. Verdasco, l. Ferrer) and Rome (l. Nadal). I think he’s looked as good as he’s been since he made it to the finals at the Australian Open. This is Gonzo’s to lose.

Matches we’re eyeing:

Youzhny vs. Muller: Just because I felt like there needed to be at least one.

Bottom Half

Fifth Quarterfinalist – Seeds: Del Potro (5), Tsonga (9), Tursunov (21), Andreev (25). I thought I saw that Tursunov had pulled out yet they still have him listed as being in … makes little difference as Del Potro coasts.

Matches we’re eyeing:

Fognini vs. Andreev: Fognini has lost in his past 3 tournaments to Simon, but made it to R16 of Monte Carlo where he gave Murray some trouble, beating Berdych and Cilic in the process. Andreev has been underwhelming this year with only the Casablanca semis to speak of and four first-round clay-court losses (including his last three).

Santoro vs. Christophe Rochus: Fabrice gets to thrill his hometown fans at least once more, but whatever the result, this one won’t be without another stellar highlight reel at the end.

Benneteau vs. Tsonga: I keep waiting for Tsonga to fall; maybe it’ll be against Benneteau, the current finalist in Kitzbuhel? Tsonga wins, but the majority of the crowd supports Benneteau.

Sixth Quarterfinalist – Seeds: Djokovic (4), Robredo (16), Fish (22), Kohlschreiber (29). Djokovic is almost as sure a bet as Nadal. I just hope that crushing semifinal loss in Madrid doesn’t take him down early here.

Matches we’re eyeing:

Ferrero vs. Ljubicic: Both are playing better clay court tennis this year than either have in the past two years. Juanqui’s a former French Open champ and won Casablanca earlier this year without dropping a set. Ljubucic reached the quarters of Madrid and Rome with wins over Tsonga, Simon and Del Potro. Ljubicic in four.

Lapentti vs. Djokovic: If Djokovic is ripe for an upset, he’ll be plucked in his first match back after that semifinal to Nadal in Madrid. And Lapentti might be up to the task. Lapentti made it to R16 in Monte Carlo upsetting Stepanek and Safin. The 32-year-old former No. 6 has had two Top-10 wins in the past three years. Will Lapentti get a third? Keep your money on Novak.

Seventh Quarterfinalist – Seeds: Roddick (6), Monfils (11), Melzer (24), Schuettler (27). Roddick has to be the favorite here. Monfils, a semifinalist last year, hasn’t played much this year on account of injury. Schuettler is only seeded as high as he is due to his Wimbledon success last year. Melzer’s never been able to pull through in big events. The two biggest threats to Roddick would be unseeded Hernandez and Gicquel.

Matches we’re eyeing:

Monfils vs. Reynolds: Just because I have to pick one and I think this could be the biggest upset of R1.

Final Quarterfinalist – Seeds: Federer (2), Blake (15), Berdych (19), Mathieu (32).

First round matches of interest:

Bolelli vs. Berdych: Never been a big Berdych fan. Maybe the Italian will beat him.

R16
Nadal d. Ferrer
Verdasco d. Wawrinka
Murray d. Stepanek
Gonzalez d. Simon
Del Potro d. Tsonga
Djokovic d. Robredo
Roddick d. Melzer
Federer d. Chardy

QFs
Nadal d. Verdasco
Gonzalez d. Murray
Djokovic d. Del Potro
Federer d. Roddick

SFs
Nadal d. Gonzalez
Djokovic d. Federer

Final
Nadal d. Djokovic in 4 sets

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