French Open 2020: Preview
• 5 MINUTE READ
For the first time in the tournament’s history, this year’s French Open will be the final Grand Slam of the season.
Having been rescheduled from its original dates earlier in the year, get ready to see the world’s greatest tennis stars sliding around the courts of Roland Garros.
Ahead of the tournament kick-starting on Sunday 27 September, we breakdown the favourites, the draws and which Brits will be gunning for that French Open title.
The headline in the men’s draw is the return of 12-time champion Rafael Nadal, who will be aiming to build on his 91-2 record in Paris. However, with little match practice and a shock defeat to Diego Schwartzman last week, has there ever been a better chance for the rest of the pack to catch up with him?
World No.1 Novak Djokovic will definitely have a point to prove coming off the back of his disqualification in New York several weeks ago. Djokovic recently took the title in Rome and continues his fantastic run in 2020. Dominic Thiem, a two-time finalist at Roland Garros and this year’s US Open champion, will also be a firm favourite to go one further this year and take the title – however a tricky draw, starting with Marin Cilic, stands in his way.
Elsewhere the crop of next generation talent will be back again, looking to pick up their first Grand Slam title. Alexander Zverev will be motivated by falling just short at the US Open, whereas Stefanos Tsitsipas is proving himself to be quite the handful on the clay this year. There will be a few others to keep an eye on this week as well – Schwartzman, Denis Shapovalov and Norway’s Casper Ruud will all prove difficult tests in the latter stages of the draw.
In the women’s draw, several of the world’s top players will return to Grand Slam action next week with 17 of the 20 top-ranked WTA Tour players taking centre stage. However, world No.1 Ashleigh Barty, Bianca Andreescu and US Open champion, Naomi Osaka have all withdrawn.
Serena Williams will of course be back in action at the slam she’s won three times in her career, as she aims for her record-breaking 24th career title. Simona Halep, the 2018 champion, returns after missing the US Open, but having won the title in Rome one week ago she looks a big favourite to repeat her sensational run from two years ago. However, if she wants to repeat her 2018 success she will potentially have to battle past Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Elina Svitolina and Kiki Bertens on the way.
The No.2 seed Karolina Pliskova will be out to claim her maiden Grand Slam title but again will have a tough ride on the way, with a number of former major winners in her side of the draw, including Gabrine Muguruza and Sofia Kenin. Muguruza herself is a former champion in Paris and after an early exit at the US Open will be glad to be back sliding around on the clay. Meanwhile Victoria Azarenka comes in as arguably the most in-form player on the tour after strong performances in the States and in Europe.
The big news from the draw was that Andy Murray will face former champion and 16th seed Stan Wawrinka. The pair, who were seen training with each other earlier this week, have faced off at Roland Garros on two occasions – the semi-finals in both 2016 and 2017. Murray took the first encounter which led to him reaching his first and only French Open final, whereas Wawrinka famously won their five-set epic the following year. Murray will be hoping to channel the same spirit we saw in the opening round of the US Open as he continues on his road back to full strength.
Another blockbuster in the first round will see British No.1 Johanna Konta take on young American prodigy, Cori Gauff. Konta became the first British woman to reach the semi-finals at the French Open since Jo Durie in 1983 last year and will be hoping to pick up a big result in her opener.
On the topic of British No.1s, Dan Evans has also been dealt a tricky opener against former world No.4 Kei Nishikori. Evans comes in as the 32nd seed and will look to replicate the result of the pair’s only previous Grand Slam meeting at the US Open in 2013, when the Brit famously picked up a big result. The Brit had a hard match against Stefanos Tsitsipas this week but should look to bounce back quickly and restore his brilliant 2020 form.
Heather Watson returns to Roland Garros this year with limited practice on clay but with ambitions of picking up some strong results, starting with Fiona Ferro. British No.3 Cameron Norrie was in action in an ATP Challenger event this week and will hope the added match play will allow him to peak on the biggest stage.
Rounding off the British singles line-up is Liam Broady who has reached his first French Open main draw with some brilliant performances in qualifying. Seemingly playing some of his best clay court tennis at the moment, Broady will be a handful for any player aspiring to go deep in the competition.