Tennis fans around the world know that the favorite coming into the 2010 French Open is Rafael Nadal. Nadal’s biggest competition will be ATP world number one Roger Federer.
With the world’s number one and two in the draw the question is: who could be the darkhorse that comes out of nowhere to upset one of the two best players in the world?
One of Nadal’s countrymen, David Ferrer, could offer the best chance of all the competitors to upset the clay-court master. Ferrer is leading the ATP in clay-court victories this year, parlaying some good off-season training into successful results on the court.
The 28 year-old Ferrer is one of the game’s best returners, with a unhittable inside-out forehand and is still aggressive on the baseline despite being older than most players on the tour. He is eyeing a top 10 ranking after a two-year layoff from the tour. Ferrer is returning to the ATP with renewed vigor, displaying a boxer-like hop after returning serves.
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Another one of Nadal’s countrymen that is showing good form leading up to the French Open is youngster Nicolas Almagro. The 24 year-old Spaniard took a set from Nadal on clay earlier this year at the ATP Mutua Madrilena Masters. After garnering a reputation as a under-achiever, Almagro too the first set 6-4 off Nadal before being defeated 6-2, 6-2.
Almagro is a talented server and can blast serves from both sides. Almagro lacks court coverage and his return of second serves is predicable. He also hasn’t matured to the mental level that Nadal has. That factor alone might be the difference if the two happen to meet.
American tennis fans will lament if Andy Roddick misses the slam due to bouts of vomiting and sweating. If Roddick does miss, the American with the best chance to beat Nadal will be John Isner.
The North Carolina native is getting better with every tournament he participates in, winning the Heineken Open at the beginning of the season, and losing in the fourth round to Any Murray in the Australian Open. With a 6-9 frame, it might be hard for Isner to keep up with the speedy Nadal.
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Colombian kid Santiago Giraldo is a long shot to contend for the French Open title, but the 22 year-old is looking to improve upon recent results. Giraldo put on an impressive show on clay against Juan Carlos Ferrero at the Internationaionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. He defeated Ferrero 6-0, and 6-3.
Giraldo also lost a close decision to Isner at the ATP Mutua Madrilena Masters in Madrid, Spain 6-1, 6-7 (6-8), 2-6.
The best chance for an upset winner on the woman’s side is 22 year-old Aravane Rezai. Jelena Jankovic is the most recent victim of the vicious volleys of the Frenchwoman, who defeated Venus Williams in Madrid.
Online Sportsbooks have Spaniard Rafael Nadal as the favorite to win his fifth French Open title at 2/5 after losing the chance to in the fourth round of the 2009 tournament against Robin Soderling.