Assessing French Hopes At Roland Garros

As is the case every year at Roland Garros, the home crowd at the French Open hope and pray that a French player will go all the way for the first time in 18 years.  As we reach day seven of the tournament there are still five French players left in the draw, all hoping to break the nearly two decade duck. Is there a chance that any of them can lift the trophy next Sunday? Let us assess their chances.

Caroline Garcia

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The only French woman left in the tournament is  Caroline Garcia. The 24 year old has perhaps the best chance of all the home representatives as she is currently the best ranked French player at number seven in the world.

Roland Garros was not a happy hunting ground for Garcia as she struggled with the weight of expectation put on her since she made her debut as a 17 year old where she almost defeated Maria Sharapova. However, since winning the doubles title in 2016 Garcia has become accustomed to the pressure and has started to embrace the support rather than let it hinder her.

It feels like Garcia is on the cusp of achieving something big, but to do it here will take something very special. The seventh seed has been drawn in the hardest section of the draw with every match from round four onwards being a huge test. Garcia is certainly capable of coming through this draw and she will have to channel her late 2017 form to do so. However with Kiki Bertens in round four and Simona Halep in the quarter finals likely, anything beyond the last eight will be a great achievement.

Gael Monfils

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With Jo Wilfried Tsonga out due to injury, the hopes for a male champion at Roland Garros may rest on Gael Monfils who is to resume his third round match against David Goffin on Saturday.

The match is tied at one set all with Goffin having a break in the third, but with Monfils you never know what can happen. This match is certainly not beyond him, and unlike Garcia on the womens side, Monfils has been drawn on the right side on the draw. He has avoided Rafael Nadal and if he goes on to beat Goffin, the unseeded Marco Cecchinato will await in round four. Novak Djokovic, Alex Zverev and Dominic Thiem are possible for the later rounds, but with the home crowd behind him, Monfils is capable of getting through this draw.

Even if Monfils does make it through to the final, he will have to face the toughest challenge in tennis and try beat Nadal at Roland Garros. Unless a miracle happens and the top seed falls before the final, the chances of the Frenchman going all the way are slim.

Lucas Pouille

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Another Frenchman that has to complete his match from Friday is Lucas Pouille who has to come back from two sets down against Karen Khachanov.

Pouille is the highest ranked French player in the draw and may have been the pre-tournament favourite in terms of French chances on the men’s side. The 15th seed has a mountain to climb on Saturday though and he will likely exit the tournament in round three unless he can mount a serious comeback. From there he will have to navigate his way past Zverev then possibly Thiem which is an uphill task.

Pouille is a talented player and is capable of beating those ahead of him, but he does not come across as ready to go all the way in a Grand Slam. He is too prone to lapses in matches and he can often let chances escape him, which against the best he can not afford to do.

Richard Gasquet

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He has got Nadal next….. yeah. The chances of Richard Gasquet even winning another set in this tournament are low, but there is always hope right?

We have seen stranger things in sports than Gasquet winning a grand slam. After all he was highly touted as a youngster and is a former top 10 player, but beating Nadal here is a feat only two people have achieved and neither of them have a single handed backhand. There is no doubt the Spaniard will attack it just like he always does and break it down.

If the Frenchman gets past Nadal then things will open up a bit for him with Marin Cilic and Juan Martin Del Potro being the biggest tests post Nadal. The winner of this tournament will probably have to beat Nadal to do so, but as with almost every other player, the chances of Gasquet being that guy are low.

Pierre Hugues Herbert

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Whilst all the higher profile French players will be taking most of the headlines, Pierre Hugues Herbert has quietly having a good tournament. He is in the third round with a good chance to progress, but can he go all the way?

Surely not Is the answer. Herbert is mainly a doubles specialist who is capable of the odd good run in singles, but he is no Grand Slam contender. He will go into his match with John Isner as the underdog with a good chance of progressing into the second week, but any further than that will be a big achievement with Del Potro probably waiting in the wings

All in all French chances mainly rest of the shoulders of Garcia. The 24 year old is the best French player at the moment and is the only one who is not facing an uphill task to even progress to the second week. She is capable of going all the way but has a tough draw ahead of her. Monfils is the best bet on the men’s side but he will have to come back against Goffin before anything else and will probably have to beat Nadal to win the tournament.

It is probable that we will not see a French winner at Roland Garros for another year which will no doubt leave the home crowd unhappy. There is not much to look forward to in the future on the men’s side, but with Garcia improving and Kristina Mladenovic and Oceane Dodin both capable of becoming top 20 staples, there may be hope on the women’s side in the next few years.

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