French Open: Bottom Half of the Draw

Jun 7, 2015; Paris, France; Stan Wawrinka (SUI) poses with the trophy after recording match point in his match against Novak Djokovic (SRB) on day 15 of the 2015 French Open at Roland Garros. Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 7, 2015; Paris, France; Stan Wawrinka (SUI) poses with the trophy after recording match point in his match against Novak Djokovic (SRB) on day 15 of the 2015 French Open at Roland Garros. Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports /

The top half of the draw at the French Open seems to be about a pair legends on a collision course for a historic semifinal, but the bottom half of the draw is about opportunity. The opportunity is there for any number of players to make a run to the final, and spoil the party much like Stan Wawrinka did last year. 

The biggest opportunity in the bottom half of the French Open is in front of Milos Raonic. Milos is having his best season on tour, and got a very favorable draw. His first seeded opponent would be Lucas Pouille. Lucas has had a very nice season, but Milos has many more weapons, and really shouldn’t have an issue getting through that one. The toughest match in his quarter would seemingly be against Stan Wawrinka. Stan has gotten the better of Milos in 4 of their 5 matches, but Stan hasn’t been at his best this season, and with Stan playing in Geneva instead of resting this week, fatigue could become a factor by the time the quarters roll around.

Andy Murray is the highest seed at the bottom of the draw. He hasn’t made it to the final of this event yet, but has managed to reach the semi finals on 3 previous occasions. This is undoubtedly his best shot to make a run at this major especially considering his first few rounds look like a piece of cake. The first seed Murray is expected to face is Ivo Karlovic, but Murray has beaten Ivo in each of their previous 6 matches. The man in Murray’s quarter that has the best chance of pulling the upset is Kei Nishikori, but even he has only taken 1 of his 7 matches against the British number 1.

While Raonic and Murray are my two favorites to come out of the bottom half, there are plenty of dark horses that could make a nice run into the second week. The 3 guys I picked out to make some noise in this half are Jack Sock, Benoit Paire, and Grigor Dimitrov.

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Jack Sock is personally my favorite American player. He has a forehand that is built for the clay, but he hasn’t fulfilled his potential yet this season. Jack has plenty of points to defend after his run to the 4th round last season, but got a decent enough draw to make that happen again. He shouldn’t have an issue dispatching of Hasse in the first round, or Sela/Qualifier in the second, but things get tougher from there. Cilic would be his third round opponent, and while Marin is ranked 13 spots higher, his game is built more for the hard courts, so I give Jack a real shot to get to the round of 16 again where he would probably lose to Raonic.

My next dark horse will certainly be a fan favorite. Benoit Paire has such an interesting game. He has one of the most underrated backhands in the sport, incredible hands up at net, and a decent serve. He is a guy with a bunch of unfilled potential, but if he can just limit his forehand errors he could be a force especially considering his draw. He will face a qualifier in the first round, either Donald Young or Gabashvilli in the second round, and a man in Isner who doesn’t have much success on clay, before a potential 4th round match up with Andy Murray.

Finally, we get to the man we’ve been waiting to burst onto the scene, Grigor Dimitrov. The Bulgarian is one of the most frustrating players to watch. The talent just oozes out of his pores, but he has really struggled this season. He comes into the tournament unseeded, but got a draw that may allow him to make some noise. His first round opponent is 22nd seed Viktor Troicki, his second round would be against either Kudla or Lajovic, the next seed he would play would be Gilles Simon in the third round before a potential 4th round clash with Stan Wawrinka. If Dimitrov can get out of his own head, he is the one unseeded player with the potential to make a run all the way to the quarter or potentially the semi finals.

Next: French Open Draw: Rafa vs. Djokovic Blockbuster Semi

While it is a shame that the draw didn’t allow for the possibility of a historic final between Nadal and Djokovic, that just leaves the door open for someone in the bottom half to make a run further than they ever have before at Roland Garros. While I like Murray to break through to the final with a win over Raonic in the semis, the door is wide open for any of the players listed above to make a run, and it will be well worth watching to see who makes good of this opportunity.