French Open Preview

In 1968, the first Grand Slam tournament of the Open Era was held at Roland Garros. This year’s event is the 44th French Open and the 173rd Grand Slam tournament of the Open Era.

2011 Roland Garros is the 110th edition of the French championships, which began in 1891 as a closed championship reserved for national players or players enrolled in French clubs, and the 81st tournament since the event became international in 1925. This is the 78th time that the tournament has been held at Roland Garros, which was built for the 1928 France v. USA Davis Cup Final.

POINTS AND PRIZE MONEY…. Total prize money for this year’s men’s singles is €6,032,000, a 4% increase on 2010. The individual prize money and ATP Ranking points for the men’s singles at 2011 Roland Garros is:

DJOKOVIC STREAKS AHEAD… Novak Djokovic enters 2011 Roland Garros on a 39-match winning streak which started at the 2010 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Final and takes in titles at the 2011 Australian Open, Dubai, ATP Masters 1000 tourn. In Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Rome. He also won in his hometown of Belgrade. This puts him in 6th place for the longest winning streak in the Open Era. 

A SIXTH ROLAND GARROS TITLE?…. Having won the title at Roland Garros in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010, Rafael Nadal is bidding to become just the 2nd man in history to win 6 Roland Garros singles titles. The only other man to collect 6 titles in Paris is Bjorn Borg’

CAN DJOKOVIC CLAIM THE TOP SPOT?…. If Djokovic reaches the Roland Garros final he is guaranteed to be ranked No. 1 when the new ATP World Tour Rankings are released on Monday 6 June. The only way Nadal can retain his No. 1 ranking is if he wins the title and Djokovic loses before the final. If Nadal fails to win the title, Djokovic will become No. 1 wherever he exits at Roland Garros.

THE BIG 3 LEAD THE WAY – This is the first Grand Slam tournament since the 2000 Australian Open the Top 3 ranked players enter a Slam with at least two Grand Slam titles. The top trio of Rafael Nadal (9), Roger Federer (16) and Novak Djokovic (2) have also accounted for 23 of the past 24 Grand Slam titles since 2005 Roland Garros when Nadal won his first Slam crown. The only Slam one of the three didn’t win during that stretch was the ’09 US Open (del Potro). This is the sixth straight Grand Slam tournament they are the top three seeds.

Here is a look at the Big 3:

Nadal is trying to tie Bjorn Borg’s record of six Roland Garros titles. The 24-year-old Spaniard (turns 25 on June 3) has a 38-1 career mark in Paris with his only loss coming to Robin Soderling in the 4th Rd. two years ago. Nadal also has a 56-1 career record in best-of-five set match (format) on clay with his only defeat coming to Soderling here in ’09. Nadal has been the No. 1 player every week since last June last year after winning his fifth Roland Garros title.

Djokovic enters with a 37-0 record on the season (39-0 going back to Davis Cup final) and a career-best seven titles on the ATP World Tour. He is off to the best start since John McEnroe went 42-0 in 1984 (losing in the RG final to Lendl). If Djokovic reaches the final AND/OR Nadal doesn’t win the title, the Serb will move to No. 1 in the ATP World Tour Rankings after the tournament. The 39-match winning streak, the sixth-longest in the Open Era. The all-time record is 46 in a row, set by Guillermo Vilas in 1977 (all on clay). Djokovic is 13-0 vs. Top 10 opponents this season, including 10-0 vs. Top 5. He is 4-0 vs. Nadal and 3-0 vs. Federer. He is the only player to defeat Nadal twice on clay in the same season, winning in straight sets in back-to-back finals in Madrid and Rome. This week’s S.I. includes a six-page feature on the Serb and the headline beneath the S.I. masthead, is entitled: Novak Djokovic, “The Most Dominant Athlete in Sports Right Now.” The last player to win the Aust. Open and French in the same season is Jim Courier in 1992

Federer goes into Roland Garros at No. 3 and the last time he went into a Grand Slam tourn. not No. 1 or 2 was ’03 Wimbledon (No. 5), which he won the title (his first GS title). Federer also goes into his first Slam tourn. without holding one of the four titles. The last Slam he did that was ’03 Wimbledon where he won. Federer’s last Grand Slam title was the ’10 Australian Open. He’s won at least one Slam crown for eight straight years (2003-10).

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