FRENCH OPEN 2012
This year’s French Open takes place amidst great change on the French political landscape with a new President of the Republic in the Elysee and huge economic problems confronting the political class not only in France, but throughout Europe. Paris has been the site of much political turmoil down the centuries from the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre in the 16th century, through the 1789 revolution, the 1871 Paris Commune up to the 1968 riots. Paris’s hot summers can create social tensions but such turmoil is unlikely to impinge on the leafy groves of the staid suburb of Roland Garros this summer ,where an excitement of a different nature is set to take place.
In the men’s game, the dominance of the ‘Top Quartet’ of Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Murray (retrospective visions of the French ‘Four Musketeers’ of the 1920’s) is unlikely to be challenged from below. Form on paper has an unfortunate habit of being upset by events, but the key question on everyone’s lips is whether Nadal can make it a record seven French titles, or whether his great nemesis and World No. 1, Novak Djokovic can win and secure his fourth consecutive Grand Slam event (in twelve months) and in the process, join that hallowed company of Budge and Laver.
Nadal has made Roland Garros virtually his own over the last decade, such has been his consistently good form and his comfort and familiarity with the clay surface. Djokovic is very much the ‘man of the moment’, having beaten Nadal in January in an epic Australian Open final. Nadal will wish to exact revenge for that narrow defeat and to imprint further his dominance at Roland Garros. Both men are seeded to meet in the Final (a consummation devoutly to be wished by the viewing public). Both are deeply determined to win. While Federer, Murray and a few others may have something to say about that, a Nadal/Djokovic final has the kind of gladiatorial quality that fans wish for.
In the Women’s game, the field is a little more wide open. Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova are the form players going into the French Open. Kim Clijsters who has recently announced her decision to retire after the US Open, has had good memories of Roland Garros and will be keen to exit on a high note. The challenge from Eastern Europe remains, while last year’s champion Li and former world no. 1 Wosniacki could also emerge.
Although a completely contrasting surface to Wimbledon’s grass, the competitive cauldron of Roland Garros, will have the viewing public searching for any clues as to likely Wimbledon form. The pressure and expectations of a Grand Slam event are like no other. Winners of the French Open events will thus be in pole position for their assault on the Wimbledon citadel next month.
Paul McElhinney May 2012
Date published :
29 May 2012 - 09:54:39