The 2019 French Open tennis tournament has just begun on the clay courts of the Stade Roland-Garros in Paris. Whilst Simona Halep and Rafael Nadal are the clear favourites to win the 123rd edition of the French Open, there are plenty of tennis fans who will be hoping that old-timers, Roger Federer and Serena Williams, could deliver some last-minute surprises.
But with both of these tennis legends coming towards the end of their careers, as well as suffering some recent injuries, it’s debatable as to whether Federer and Williams can serve up just one more shock in Paris. So here’s a look at who could succeed in one of the biggest tennis tournaments.
Will the 2019 French Open be Roger Federer’s last Grand Slam tournament?
Despite having missed out on the French Open for the previous three years, Roger Federer made the bold decision to make his return to the clay courts of Roland-Garros. The 37-year old Swiss tennis ace recently told French television that each tournament in 2019 could be his last. However, Federer is determined to play the French Open like he did 10 years ago, and has stated that he will give it his best.
Compared to his staggering eight Wimbledon title-wins, the Swiss player has only one French Open title to his name. Federer’s 2009 French Open final victory against Robin Soderling will give him plenty of inspiration this May, but it’s clear that the 2019 edition of the tournament could be his toughest challenge yet.
What about Roger Federer’s leg injury?
Roger Federer also has some serious injury issues to deal with. The tennis legend had to retire from the Italian Open in Rome as a result of an injury to his right leg earlier this month. Whilst he comfortably beat Joao Sousa in straight sets, his match-winning performance against Borna Coric is believed to have caused him to injure his leg after slipping on the rain-affected baseline.
For a while it looked like Federer could miss the 2019 French Open. But the ATP have been making positive noises about the tennis star’s recovery and it’s hoped that we could see Federer make one final appearance at the Roland-Garros. The last time that the Swiss ace played the French Open was in 2015 where he suffered a shock fourth-round defeat at the hands of Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Can Serena Williams make a big comeback at the 2019 French Open?
Whilst injury concerns are casting a cloud over Roger Federer’s reappearance at the French Open, it seems that Serena Williams has managed to make a full recovery from her recent knee injury. The American star was spotted practicing with her sister and her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, at the Philippe-Chatrier court in Paris on Monday, and hopes are high that she could deliver a few surprises at the French Open this year.
Williams had to pull out of the Italian Open in Rome as a result of a recurrent left knee problem. However, news reports have stated that the American star has managed to regain fitness and is ready to face her opening match next week.
The 23-time Grand Slam Champion has had a tricky 2019. By exiting early from the Italian Open it meant that it was the third time in four matches that she’d had to retire as a result of injuries this year. But the 2019 French Open is looking to give her one of her best chances to win a Grand Slam title since giving birth to her daughter in 2017.
Last year Serena Williams managed to reach the fourth round of the French Open. However, she had to withdraw before her match against rival Maria Sharapova as a result of a pectoral injury. But with three title-winning performances at the French Open in 2002, 2013 and 2015, there is little denying Williams’ skill on clay courts.
Why Rafael Nadal is the clear favourite to win the 2019 Men’s French Open
If Roger Federer does manage to stage a full recovery, he would have some serious work to do to beat the current French Open favourite, Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard is in incredible form at the moment, and his Italian Open triumph over Novak Djokovic saw him passing Federer to gain the accolade of the second-longest streak in the world top 10 in the history of the ATP rankings.
Whilst Nadal has struggled on clay in Barcelona, Madrid and Monte Carlo this year, his win at Rome will have boosted his confidence ahead of the French Open. Such is Nadal’s form, that even Novak Djokovic has stated that the Spaniard is the clear favourite to win this year’s French Open.
Nadal has won the French Open a record 11 times, and he will be aiming for three wins in a row in Paris this month. Despite this, we can expect to see plenty of tough competition from contenders like Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and that man, Roger Federer.
Sadly, the American clay court ace, John Isner has been forced to withdraw from the French Open as a result of a foot injury sustained in the Miami Masters final. Finally, don’t expect to see Nick Kyrgios getting a warm reception at this year’s French Open. The controversial Australian star once again hit the headlines thanks to a typically outspoken live Instagram post where he stated that the French Open ‘sucks’ compared to Wimbledon.
The main contenders in the 2019 Women’s French Open
Whilst the Men’s French Open is fairly predictable, almost anything could happen in the Women’s French Open this year. Previously there have been five different women’s singles winners at Roland-Garros in as many years with Simona Halep, Jelena Ostapenko, Garbine Muguruza, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova all picking up the honours.
Unfortunately, Maria Sharapova will have to sit out this year’s competition as a result of shoulder problem, and it looks like injuries could also cause Petra Kvitova and Naomi Osaka to miss out on a shot of glory at this year’s French Open.
The current champion, Simona Halep, has been playing down expectations of her reclaiming the title. The Romanian suffered a defeat by Kiki Bertens in the final of the Madrid Open earlier this month, and her defeat by Marketa Vondrousova in the Italian Open won’t have helped her confidence.
Plus with the likes of Karolina Pliskova, Sloane Stephens and Elina Svitolina all putting in some strong performances recently, it’s going to be tough to see how the 2019 Women’s French Open will pan out.