Predictions for the French Open were generally thought easier in recent years, compared to the rest of the Grand Slams. On the ATP side, Rafael Nadal’s dominance was practically undisputed, so long as he was healthy. As far as the WTA is concerned, the question was whether Serena would lose the tournament, rather than who would win it.
Things in professional tennis have changed lately though. The men’s field has become much less predictable, due to the injuries that have plagued many of the top players. On one hand, this has resulted in Nadal and Federer monopolizing the top spot and winning 5 consecutive Grand Slams. On the other, younger players have had the chance to rise and gain in experience and titles. At the same time, it is rather hard to predict the level of play for recovering pros and whether they could truly challenge Nadal’s crown.
On the women’s side, no tournament is safe to bet on, particularly after Serena’s pregnancy hiatus. The inherent unpredictability has only become greater due to the increased competitiveness. Seasoned and younger female players alike have now tasted great success in big tournaments. Serena can still cast a shadow and command incredible respect, but will this be enough this year?
2018 French Open dates
The 2018 French Open will take place at Stade Roland Garros between May 27 and June 10, 2018. The 2018 spring clay tennis season is just getting underway and there’s a lot to be seen in the upcoming tournaments. So far, we know that Roger Federer will skip the entire clay season. Certainties about participants and their level of play practically end there. What will happen with Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori? Are Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka ready to get back to winning titles? Can Simona Halep win her first Grand Slam in Paris and how will clay treat Wozniacki and Kerber this year?
Many of these questions will start getting answered in the next few weeks, at the clay tournaments leading up to the French Open. But before that, let’s take a stab at predicting the French Open winners for 2018.
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2018 French Open predictions WTA
Attempting predictions for any WTA event is not for the faint-hearted. The women’s field does not favor forecasts, even after Queen Serena’s return to the sport, which hasn’t lived up to the expectations so far. But there’s no doubt Williams is hungry for her 24rd Grand Slam and the French Open is her first chance this year. If there’s someone even hungrier for this title, that’s probably Simona Halep. The current WTA world number 1 doesn’t want to stay slamless for much longer. Having missed 2 opportunities for a Grand Slam in the past 12 months, Halep will give it her all in Paris.
As for the rest, I really like what I’ve seen from Victoria Azarenka in the few tournaments she has played so far. If she does make it to Paris, she will be one to watch. Kiki Bertens has put on some great performances on clay and might score a few upsets this year as well. Some would also add Caroline Wozniacki to the mix, but I think the Dane is not as motivated after her Australian Open win. Angelique Kerber should improve her clay records, but she doesn’t look ready for another Grand Slam. Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys are getting in good form and might enjoy a good run.
That being said, there is one name that stands out as a potential protagonist on clay and that is Daria Kasatkina. The Russian is the closest we’ve seen to a female Rafael Nadal in recent years, when it comes to the style of play. Kasatkina loves spin (almost as much as she loves Rafa) and that is a powerful weapon to have on clay. She’s had some great runs on hard courts this season, but she can really shine on clay.
2018 French Open predictions ATP
The men’s field for the 2018 French Open is far from determined, other than Roger Federer’s absence. Novak Djokovic will most likely participate, but no one knows which version of Novak will show up in Paris. His recent performances are not title-winning material, but this is a champion we can’t write off light-heartedly. Juan Martin Del Potro has enjoyed an impressive streak in 2018, winning the title in Indian Wells and almost making the Sunshine Double in Miami. The Tower of Tandil seems to have finally gotten over his injuries and is definitely one to watch in Paris. Kevin Anderson and Lucas Pouille have also put on some great performances in the season so far and they will be looking to consolidate their form on clay.
However, when it comes to clay, Rafael Nadal remains the undisputed favorite in any tournament. Nadal has been battling injuries since the Australian Open and has tried to protect himself by opting out from several hard court tournaments early in the season. It is clear that the 11th Roland Garros title is his main priority and there’s not much standing in his way. If there is one player who could prove us wrong, it’s probably the so-called Prince of clay, Dominique Thiem. Thiem reached the semis last year in Paris and a Grand Slam on clay seems inevitable for the Belgian. Is this going to be his year?
My 2018 French Open favorites
The unpredictability of events and high competition level is one of the best aspects of tennis in the recent years. It’s hard to resist weighing in on who has the best shot to win the Grand Slams each year though. For this year’s French Open, I would pick Rafael Nadal to win the men’s title and Simona Halep for the women’s side. But I wouldn’t be surprised if either Dominique Thiem or Daria Kasatkina consilidate their great performances on clay with their maiden Grand Slam title in Paris.
Update June 5, 2018: Not much has changed in the predictions for the men’s field, as Rafael Nadal still seems like the undisputed favorite to win his 11th French Open title. Dominic Thiem is about to beat Alexander Zverev for a well-deserved spot in the semi finals. Novak Djokovic has quietly but steadily moved into the QF and has a relatively easy match ahead, against Marco Cecchinato. The question remaining to be answered is whether Thiem can question Nadal’s dominance, or whether we’ll have to wait another year or two for that.
On the women’s side, both Simona Halep and Daria Kasatkina are advancing as predicted. The real surprise for me is Angelique Kerber, who has progressed as far as the QF in Paris for the first time in 6 years. Kerber has put on some great performances, convincingly eliminating clay expert Kiki Bertens and home crowd favorite Caroline Garcia in the process. A year ago talking about a third Grand Slam for the German would seem a cruel joke, but if she gets past Halep in the QF nothing is truly impossible.