When Australian tennis fans hear the phrase ‘French Open’, the reaction is generally one of hopelessness and this is more than merited. The last Australian to win the final of the French Open was the great Rod Laver in 1969. However, this year there may some cause for optimism for Australian tennis fans. Here is a run down of all the Australian men and their chances at this years tournament.
Nick Kygrios: Perhaps Australia’s greatest hope of getting anything out of this tournament. Kygrios’ game, unusually for an Australian player, suits clay pretty well with his ability to muscle the ball around the court being one of the best on tour at the moment. Nicks form on clay has been very promising so far this year, with the highlight being a semi-final appearance at the Madrid masters event where he beat the likes of Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori, before ultimately falling to the greatest clay-courter in the professional era Rafael Nadal. Seeded number 17 at Roland Garros, Nick will not have to play a seed until the third round at the very earliest and thanks to a favourable draw he will not run into any of the top 4 players in the world until the quarter-final stages of the tournament. It is for this reason that Nick is many people dark horse for the tournament.
Bernard Tomic: Bernie has never liked clay. This has been evident in his results on the surface, only making it past the first round at Roland Garros once last year where he fell to fellow Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis in 5 sets. Bernie games does not suit clay at all, his very flat ball trajectory and suspect movement around the court make him much easier to pick apart on the clay compared to hard court and his favourite surface grass. Tomic faces American Brian Baker in the first round, who has had a resurgence in recent months and will cause Bernie more than a few problems. I expect Tomic to get through the first round but it will be in four or five sets and I also predict that he will exit the tournament.
Sam Groth- This year so far for Sam Groth has been underwhelming to say the least. After breaking into the World top 50 last year, Groth has fallen away badly this year and is about to fall out of the top 100 if he doesn’t get a good result at Roland Garros. In his way at Roland Garros is the owner of nine French Open titles Rafael Nadal. As if the challenge of Nadal isn’t enough, clay is by far Groth’s worst surface, with the slower surface cancelling out his booming serve. It will be a miracle if Groth doesn’t get knocked out in the first round.
Jordan Thompson: The youngest of the Australian mens brigade at Roland Garros, as mentioned in a previous article, is trying to get his maiden win at a Grand Slam in this year’s French Open. His draw has been favourable and he may not another chance to get this win for a while yet. Jordan is set to play Serbian qualifier Laslo Djere who is ranked over 100 spots below Thompson in the world rankings. The only possible thing that could go against Thompson is the fact that Djere grew up on clay and it is his favourite surface. Despite this I believe Jordan will win his first grand slam match and go on to face bug serving Croat Ivo Karlovic.
John Millman: This year started really well for John Millman with positives results throughout the Australian summer, including a run into the second week of the Australian Open. The third ranked Australian male has risen to number 60 in the World and will hope to continue his momentum that he has built up so far this year at Roland Garros. Millman has drawn World number 15 John Isner in the first round and while that is a tough ask, there are holes very to Bernard Tomic that can be exploited in Isners game, especially on clay with his movement being very laboured at times due to his tall frame. It will take his best tennis, but don’t discount Millman from this match.