After what has been an entertaining start to this abbreviated European clay-court swing, all eyes are turning to the French Open in Paris. This week, with regular host Andy Watson away, Jim Smith took the helm at the Last Word on Tennis podcast, where he was joined by guests Damian Kust and Elias Laradi to preview Roland Garros.
Last Word on Tennis Podcast French Open Preview
The Situation in Paris
Elias, our reporter on the ground in Paris, gave his take on how feasible the French Tennis Federation’s plans to have fans on the site is, whilst Damian, who has been covering the Hamburg Open in Germany, discussed how players have been dealing with the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, as well as how the decision to allow over two thousand fans a day on site in Hamburg has played out over the last week.
Simona Halep was a consensus pick for the most likely titlist at the French Open. The Romanian will arrive in Paris in excellent form, having won her last 14 matches and claimed titles at the Prague Open and the Italian Open. The team also discussed the chances of Garbine Muguruza, who won the French Open in 2017 and impressed in Rome in her last outing, and the great Serena Williams, who will once again be seeking a record-equalling 24th Major title.
The team foresaw a three-way battle for the men’s title at the French Open, with Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem all likely contenders in Paris. Nadal, who has won 13 titles in Paris, saw his status as the early favourite damaged by defeat in the quarterfinals in Rome, but he remains the man to beat in the eyes of Damian and Elias. Djokovic, after stumbling at the US Open, will have a point to prove whilst Thiem can play with the confidence as a Grand Slam champion after conquering New York.
Jim, Damian and Elias also discussed which less-heralded players they thought might make an impact in Paris. Damian was particularly impressed by Tsitsipas in Hamburg, with the Greek still in the hunt for the title in Germany, whilst Elias highlighted the good form of his compatriot Denis Shapovalov. The Canadian broke into the top ten for the first time in his career after reaching the semifinals at the Italian Open.
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