Notes from the North

Buoyed by my remarkably accurate predictions for the two women's semis (I correctly predicted Sharapova to win in two sets and Errani to win in three), I now offer my bold picks for the men's draw in the French Open.

Rafael Nadal will win the title.

Okay, not so bold. Everybody knows Nadal is going to win at Roland Garros. We've all known it since he stepped on the court for his first match of the tournament and proved himself to be 1) in good physical health, 2) in good mental health, and 3) playing well.

He's won six titles in a row on clay in Paris and there's nothing to suggest he won't win it again this year.

As a Federer fan, I am actually hoping that Roger loses in the semis to Novak Djokovic so that he won't have to take a beating from Nadal in the title match. Let's keep Roger's often fragile ego intact for now, so that the Wimbeldon/U.S. Open season will at least be somewhat exciting, with three players in the running, rather than just two (and Federer weeping on the sideline).

So, in effect, I'm saying I want either a Nadal/Djokovic final or a Ferrer/Federer final: if Ferrer upsets Nadal, I want Fed to get through and play for his second French Open title; if Nadal beats his fellow Spaniard, I want it to be Nole who has to take on the unbeatable clay-court monster in the final.

Nadal has dominated Ferrer across their careers, winning 16 of their 20 matches. That being said, Ferrer actually has a winning record over Nadal at Grand Slam tournaments (2-1), having beaten Nadal in the final of the 2011 Australian Open and in the early rounds of the 2007 U.S. Open. Ferrer's only loss to Nadal in a Major? In 2005 at, you guessed it, the French Open.

With all that in mind, I think I have to pick Rafa to win tomorrow. Probably in 3 sets. Maybe four, if Nadal loses concentration after getting up 2-0.

Federer versus Djokovic has been a little bit more competitive: although Roger holds a 13-11 career lead over Nole, Djoko has won five of their last six meetings. The only loss? You guessed it: last year in the semis at Roland Garros.

As I said above, I really really don't want Federer to face Nadal in the finals in Paris. But I'm worried that he'll beat Djokovic in the semi-final, in four sets. Clay is a great equaliser for Roger in his rivalry with Djokovic and I think he does himself no favours by winning the semi-final for the right to get hammered by Nadal for the title.

If is is Nadal-Federer in the final, I can't see it going in any direction but 3-0 Nadal. He's just too good on clay.

And Federer will emerge with his confidence shattered, making the rest of the season tough for him against the other top players.


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