The 2015 French Open

Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova look to defend their crowns in Paris, France, at Roland-Garros, the 2015 French Open.

Last year Nadal came back from a set down to beat number-one player in the world Novak Djokovic (3-6, 7-5, 6-2 and 6-4) to win his fifth straight French Open title and ninth overall. It was his 14th overall grand slam title win to tie Pete “Pistol Pete” Sampras at second overall behind Rodger Federer. Djokovic was the second seed in the tournament behind Nadal. Beating Rafa at Roland Garros has been almost impossible. He is 66-1 on the red clay grand slam with his only blemish in 2009 to
Sweden’s Robin Soderling in four sets.

Sharapova reached her third consecutive French Open final to face off against Romania’s fourth-seeded Simona Halep. She won in 2012 against Italy’s Sara Errani and lost in 2013 against Serena Williams.

Maria Sharapova fought through three grueling sets against Halep to come out on top 6-4, 6-7 (5) and 6-4 to win her second French Open title in three years and fifth grand slam overall. The women’s side saw Williams go down in the second round, second seed Li Na of China go down in the first round, and third seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland lose early, which Sharapova took advantage of to win the title.

The question on everybody’s mind is whether or not Rafa can win the French Open for a 10th time, and can Sharapova reach the final for a fourth straight year and win a third title?

Oddsmakers currently have Djokovic as the favorite with Nadal right behind. Scotsman Andy Murray is third while Japan’s Kei Nishikori and the winningest player in tennis history is the fourth or fifth choice on many boards. World number-one Serena Williams is the favorite to win her third French Open title, and Sharapova is right behind her. Other favorites are Simona Halep and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.

In 2015, we have seen Djokovic and Serena Williams dominate the field. Djokovic is an eight-time grand slam winner with five Australian Open, two Wimbledon and one U.S. Open titles. A win in Paris would give him the career grand slam. He would join elite company in Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer and Nadal. Djokovic is 35-2 this year with his two losses coming on outdoor hard courts to Croatian Ivo Karlovic in Doha and Federer in Dubai, respectively. He has five titles this year: Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo and Rome, which means he has swept all ATP World Tour 1000 events so far this year. In Monte Carlo he defeated Nadal in the semi-finals in straight sets 6-3, 6-3. He took down Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in three sets to win the title.

In Rome he took out Nishikori in the quarterfinals 6-3, 4-6 and 6-1. He went on to face Federer in the final to continue his torrid pace with a title win in straight sets 6-4, 6-3. Djokovic has won 22 straight matches and the last 10 on clay.
Serena Williams, the WTA world number-one, is 25-1 on the year with titles at the Australian Open and Miami. Her only loss this year came on the clay courts in Madrid to Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, 2-6, 3-6. She withdrew at Indian Wells and Rome due to injury. Although clay is her least preferred surface, she is 5-1 on the season. Williams is looking to win her third-straight Grand Slam after winning the U.S. Open last year and the Australian Open earlier this year.

PSU Tennis Weighs in
In order to get more insight on this tournament, PSU Men’s Tennis player Wil Cochrane, PSU Women’s Tennis player Sabina-Elena Preda, and 2015–16 PSU Tennis Club President Michael Nguyen weighed in their thoughts toward the 2015 French Open.

Cochrane shared his predictions by stating, “Even though Nadal has won 9 of the last 10, he admitted that he doesn’t think he will ever be able to play at the level he was once at, and his record shows it doing mediocre during the clay season. Meanwhile, Djokovic destroyed Nadal at Monaco 6-3 6-3, and he also won Rome. He is the number-one in the world and is riding a lot of momentum from Rome into the French. Serena is always a good bet, plus she is the one seed.”
Preda made her predictions: “I think my fellow
Romanian Simona Halep will win. She is very confident in her game, and she played on clay her whole life, and she has a very good chance at winning given that she was in the final last year. For the men, I think Novak Djokovic will win. He has won more than 20 matches in a row and just won the Rome tournament, and he feels and looks really good on the court.”

Simona Halep is the current world number-three and has a 29-6 record on the year with a 3-2 record on clay. In 2015, she has won titles in Shenzhen, Dubai and Indian Wells. In 2014 she reached her first grand slam final at the French Open against Sharapova. Halep is eyeing another run to the finals with a hope of winning her first grand slam title this year on the red clay courts in Paris.

Nguyen expressed his viewpoints: “I think Sharapova because she has the best results on clay; it’s also the surface she has the best chance against Serena, because its Serena’s worst. Djokovic because he’s been playing like a mad man,” Nguyen predicted.

Serving up competition
The current world number-two, Sharapova is currently 26-5 on the year with a 9-1 record on clay. She dropped the semi-final clash with Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 2-6, 4-6 but rebounded the next week in Rome against Carla Suárez Navarro 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 to capture the title.

Top Americans in action include 17th-ranked John Isner, up-and-coming 36th-ranked Jack Sock (who won the clay title in Houston earlier in the year against 38th-ranked Sam Querrey), and 49th-ranked Donald Young.

Joining Serena Williams is her sister Venus at 15th, Madison Keyes at 16th, Coco Vandeweghe at 33rd, Varvara Lepchenko at 34th, Madison Brengle at 36th, Sloane Stephens at 41st and Alison Riske at 46th. Djokovic looks to bring home his first French Open crown to complete his career grand slam while Nadal is trying to hold it for the 10th time in 11 years. These two heavyweights hope to settle it in Paris. The women’s field has Williams and Sharapova trying to become winners in Paris for the third time.
Halep looks to make her second consecutive final and win her first grand slam title.

With only two spots in the final, will two of them play one another for the crown, or will someone else emerge? This shapes up to be a must-see grand slam to watch on both sides. The storylines are here. The question is whether any dark horse can stop these heavy favorites from succeeding.

To see if their predictions come true, check out the 2015 French Open at Roland Garros until the last shot on June 7. The women’s final will be on June 6, and the men’s final will be the final day.