The second Grand Slam of the year, the French Open, starts today in Paris. It comes after the Australian Open and before Wimbledon. The first matches will begin at 11:00 a.m.
The French Open or Roland Garros as the French call it, is a tournament played on clay over two weeks time. The tournament has been taking place in Paris since 1891. This year the prize money for both the men’s and women’s singles has gone up by 250,000 euros. Each winner of the finals will go back home with 1.5 million euro.
The finals will be played on Saturday June 8th for the women and on Sunday June 9th for the men unless the weather conditions don’t allow it.
Russian Maria Sharapova (ATP 1) and Spaniard Rafael Nadal (ATP 4) will defend their titles. For Maria Sharapova, a pro since 2001, it will be her 11th Roland Garros (best results in 2012) and for Rafael Nadal, a pro as well since 2001, it will be his 9th Roland Garros. He has already won Roland Garros 7 times.
Rafael Nadal, who took last year a six months break due to a knee injury, returned end of January to the competition. He is in good shape and recently beat Roger Federer (ATP 3) 6/1 – 6/3 at the Italian Open in Rome.
Novak Djokovic had ups and downs this year but he is one of the few, who beat Nadal so far. His last win was at the finale of Monte Carlo in May winning against Rafael Nadal 6/2 -7/6.
Andy Murray (ATP 2) withdrew due to a back injury and Juan Del Potro (ATP 7) due to a viral infection.
Federer, who won Roland Garros in 2009, starts the French Open for the first time with no tournament victory since 2001.
Stanislas Wawrimka from Switzerland (ATP 11) will also be there. He has done well making it to the finals in Madrid and winning the tournament of Oeiras in Portugal beating David Ferrer.
Will any French player have a chance this year to be the second French since 1983 to win Roland Garros?
Thirty years after the victory of Yannick Noah against Mats Wilander in three sets 6/2 – 7/5 – 7/6 the French hope for another day like on June 5th 1983. This year we will have to watch out for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (ATP 8), Richard Gasquet (ATP 9), Marion Bartoldi (ATP 13), Gilles Simon (ATP 17) and many more.
According to the draw on Friday, Nadal and Djokovic will meet in semi-finals. For the national director of tennis Patrice Hagelauer “It’ll be like having two finals!” Federer could face Tsonga this year again. He will be playing against a qualifier in the first round.
Tomas Berdych will face Gaël Mon Fils in the first round. “It’s a shame for Gaël to have to play Berdych so early because he is just in the process of getting his confidence back, but with Gaël, everything is possible! We’ll have to see how he is after. Nice, but I’m pretty sure that Berdych will be cursing his luck as well after getting a draw like this! It
should be a cracking match” said Patrice Hagelauer for the press in Roland Garros.
For more information about Roland Garros, the draw and schedule of plays click here .