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Sunday, May 27, 2012

David Ferrer and Four Other Sentimental Favorites at French Open

Chances are that the winner of the men's draw at the 2012 French Open will come from one of three men: Nadal, Djokovic, or Federer. Del Potro is the only man to break the top three's stranglehold on the Slams in the last seven years. Nonetheless, I am going to list some of my sentimental favorites to win this French Open.

It is hard to say who is most deserving to win an Open who has not, but David Ferrer of Spain has to be close to the top of the list. The guy works incredibly hard for every point and has a stature that the weekend player can relate to. Ferrer, however, is unable to crack the top three (like everyone else). He is a bulldog and will be there in the second week. Maybe this is his year if Rafa slips up (again this post is about "what ifs" not reality).

Another sentimental favorite has to be Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Even though he did not give himself a chance to win it, if he somehow did win his home country Open it would be a spectacle. Tsonga has huge, exciting game that has not always translated to wins at the French. A remarkable win over Federer at Wimbledon should give Tsonga some belief when it comes to beating the Top 3 (although Federer did smash at the US Open).

What would this list be without Andy Murray? Murray has won more matches than anyone I can remember without winning a Slam. Could this be the time? Murray is with new coach Ivan Lendl and looked better in the Australian Open. I believe he will eventually win a Slam because he has beaten the Top 3 on many occasions, just not in a Slam final. It is hard to imagine Murray winning his first slam on clay, but Agassi won his first on grass. You never know.

Someone noted on Twitter that it is hard to believe Juan Carlos Ferrero has not advanced past the third round of the French Open since 2003. That is the year the JCF won the tournament and looked like he could be the next multiple French Open champion and successor to Gustavo Kuerten. It is has not worked out that way, and Ferrero has not even sniffed the final weekend in eight years since his win. How cool would it be if Ferrero went on a magical run at a second title?

The fifth sentimental favorite to win the French Open is David Nalbandian. Nalbandian is great to watch and has unbelievable strokes. In the last decade he is one of the best players to not win a Slam. Previously the nemesis of Roger Federer, injuries and time off have pushed Nalbandian out of the spotlight as a potential champion. No matter; of all the guys unranked lurking in the draw this is the guy you do not want to play. If he puts it together he can beat anyone.

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