Let's hope the rain stays away for the next fortnight as Roland Garros commences. The draws are out, Slam excitement is in the air, and fans are revved up.
If Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal don't meet in their third final of the season, I'll be shocked. Literally. Of course clay is funny, as Savannah is wont to say, so upsets may happen, but I'm not seeing them. Raja can waltz into the final on tiptoe; Rafa has a few more bad bounces to overcome, but I trust he will. Novak Djokovic is in Rafa's half, but my opinion of Djoke the person aside, I'm not sold on the idea that he has what it takes to go the distance in Paris. A sore throat, shortness of breath, dizziness, a broken fingernail are all poised to derail him just as he gets his groove on.
With Justine Henin's sudden retirement, the women's draw is wide open some say. I wouldn't go that far. Yes, Roland Garros is the Slam that produces the most first-time Slam champions and probably has crowned more one-time Slam winners than any other. Who could win their first Slam in Paris this year? Because I so often compare her to Anastasia Myskina, Jelena Jankovic is the first to jump to mind. But she'll have to emerge unscathed from a loaded bottom half of the draw and it's likely she'll have to defeat Venus Williams and Serena Williams back-to-back just to get to the finals.
Serena's form, her 17-match winning streak that Dinara Safina snapped in Berlin, and her desire to win every Slam more than once certainly make her the prohibitive favorite. But Katarina Srebotnik, her third-round seed, and Patty Schnyder, her fourth-round seed, have given her all sorts of trouble on the slippery stuff. In fact, she's never beaten Patty on clay, though both of their matches went three sets.
The top half of the women's draw features Russia. If I had to bet on it, I'd say Elena Dementieva will emerge victorious from the sea of compatriots, but I wouldn't count out Vera Zvonereva, Svetlana Kuznetsova, or Dinara Safina, all of whom love springtime in Paris. And then there's Maria Sharapova, the top seed, who will try to prove her greatness by completing a career Slam with a victory on her least favorite surface. She has the will, I suppoe, but does she have the game?
Well, there you have it. I've just written more about the women's draw than the men's. All because Justine ain't around no more.