Tennis legend Roger Federer wasn’t his usual self as he bowed out of the Shanghai Masters quarter-finals.
With the release of the 2013 French Open men’s draw, it’s time to cast an eye over some potentially interesting matches that could take place over the next fortnight.
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have been placed in the top half of the draw; thus making this the first time since the 2010 French Open in which they have been drawn in the same half.
On that occasion, the projected semi-final which could have taken place was ruined by Austrian journeyman Jurgen Melzer, who came from two sets down to defeat Djokovic in the quarter-finals before being beaten by Nadal in the final four.
This means that Roger Federer should not be threatened until the final, where two of his greatest rivals await.
The Swiss must make the final to regain the World No. 2 ranking from Andy Murray, who will miss the tournament due to a back injury.
So, without further ado, here are some interesting matches that could take place in the first week:
Novak Djokovic (1) versus Grigor Dimitrov (26), due to meet in the third round
The young boyfriend of Maria Sharapova recently pulled off a stunning three-set victory over the World No. 1 in Madrid a few weeks back. Could he be the one who ends the Djoker’s streak of 15 consecutive major quarter-finals?
Rafael Nadal (3) versus Lukas Rosol, due to meet in the third round
The soon-to-be 28-year-old Czech pulled off one of the greatest upsets in Grand Slam tennis history when he knocked over the 11-times major champion at Wimbledon last year.
This year, if they meet, it’ll be on Nadal’s favourite surface in the third round. Can Lukas Rosol pull off another upset and help Novak Djokovic win the title, in the same manner that he helped Andy Murray reach the final at SW19 last year.
Or will Rafael Nadal finally get his revenge, almost a year on?
Tomas Berdych (5) versus Nicolas Almagro (11), due to meet in the fourth round
Former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych caused some controversy at last year’s Australian Open when he refused to apologise to Nicolas Almagro following an incident whereby the Spaniard appeared to deliberately target Berdych on the chest late in a four-set match which the Czech won.
Here, the World No. 6 will stand in the way of Almagro and a fourth quarter-final in Paris, but can Almagro get revenge for two defeats last year?
Novak Djokovic (1) versus Tommy Haas (12) or Janko Tipsarevic (8), quarter-finals
It wasn’t that long ago that Tommy Haas upset Novak Djokovic in Miami. But for a shot at the Serb in the quarter-finals in Paris, he’ll have to get past another Serb, Janko Tipsarevic, who has shown consistent form this year.
Rafael Nadal (3) versus Stanislas Wawrinka (9), quarter-finals
Rafael Nadal has been on a roll since returning from a seven-month injury lay-off in February, reaching eight finals and winning six of them, just in time to sneak back into the Top Four ahead of a tournament which he will be aiming to win for an unprecedented eighth time.
However, standing in the way of a semi-final showdown against Novak Djokovic will be Stanislas Wawrinka, who has never beaten Nadal, and was recently beaten by him in Madrid. Nadal should not be threatened until this stage, but Wawrinka could pose a threat.
Nicolas Almagro (11) versus David Ferrer (4), quarter-finals
Nicolas Almagro and David Ferrer put on a five-set show at the Australian Open earlier this year, with Ferrer coming from two sets down and also facing several match points to pull through, en route to being thrashed by Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.
Assuming that the two Spaniards do pull through the sections, another thriller is expected.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (6) versus Roger Federer (2), quarter-finals
Once again Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will have the home crowd behind him as he looks to repeat last year’s quarter-final run, where he almost took out Novak Djokovic (he held four match points in the fourth set) before capitulating in five sets.
This year, Marin Cilic, who defeated the Frenchman in Miami recently, stands in the way of him and a possible quarter-final showdown against Roger Federer, whom Tsonga came from two sets down to defeat at Wimbledon in 2011.
Should Tsonga get this far, a huge crowd will be expected as he bids to become the first Frenchman since Gael Monfils in 2008 to reach the semi-finals in Paris.
Next, I will preview some of the potential women’s matches that could take place over the next fortnight.