By Ros Satar, in Paris
- He may be top seed and World No. 1 but it is a long road for Andy Murray to reach, if not better this time around
- Bidding to win the French Open for the first time, after reaching the final for the first time in 2016
PARIS, FRANCE – Andy Murray searches for motivation, form and shaking illness free at the start of Roland Garros as we break down his draw.
Andy Murray Draw Predictions (On ranking/seeding)
World No. 1 Andy Murray is fighting more than the Paris weather and the clay, as he recovers from an illness and looks to guidance from Ivan Lendl ahead of the French Open.
Round 1: Andrey Kuznetsov – Murray leads 2-0
In their first clash at the 2014 US Open, the Russian actually took a set off Murray in the third round so grinding out for more than three sets in a Slam environment is not an issue.
Murray can ill-afford to start his campaign with a four or five setter so it will be a good test of whether he feels a little more in balance with Lendl back on side.
Round 2: Martin Klizan – Murray leads 1-0
Klizan managed to lead Murray a merry dance in their one encounter in Vienna last year, before running completely out of steam against the Brit in the deciding set. Provided he has not expended too much energy in his opener, this is a winnable match.
Round 3: Juan Martin Del Potro  – Murray leads 6-3
After a popular run in Rome to the quarter-final, Del Potro was maybe feeling the effects in his shoulder and neck after a surprising loss in the second round of Lyon to qualifier Gastao Elias. Still, this is a tricky first seed to encounter and could pull Murray into a long session out on court.
Round 4: Tomas Berdych  – Murray leads 11-6
It is probably fair to say that Berdych is not the surprise-pulling opponent he used to be. He seems to have lost the edge on his game and must be close to admitting that his chances of being a real contender at Slams are now long gone.
His only saving grace is Murray’s dip in form although he will have to snap a seven-match losing streak to dump the World No. 1 out early. In fairness if Murray has made it this far he may be playing himself into form.
Quarter-final: Alexander Zverev  – Murray leads 1-0
Murray dealt Zverev a solid lesson when they faced each other in the opening round of the Australian Open last year, vut what a difference a year (and a half) makes. Zverev has rounded well into form, bearing Novak Djokovic for the Rome Masters title – no mean feat from the much vaunted #NextGen.
Zverev has proved that he has no fear when it comes to challenging the old order and this could well be Murray’s last stand on the clay for 2017.
Semi-final: Stan Wawrinka  – Murray leads 10-7
Tearful Geneva champion Wawrinka probably feels it is a about time he got his clay court feet under him. Having been singularly unremarkable in Monte carlo, Madrid and Rome, the Geneva win has Wawrinka coming in a little more match sharp.
If Murray has made it this far, then his form will have returned but while Stan leads 2-1 on clay, Murray grasped the last win, this time last year at the semi-final stage in Roland Garros. It is something to hold on to.
Final: Novak Djokovic  – Djokovic leads 25-11
A whole lot of ‘ifs’ surrounds this match-yup with of course Djokovic and Rafael Nadal slated to face each other in the semi-finals – some may even call it a de-facto final.
It remains to be seen what impact Andre Agassi has on his new charge in such a short space of time and even if Nadal beats Djokovic to make his run on an historic 10th title, the sums still do not add up for Murray with Nadal leading the way 17-7.
What Murray had to say
Not surprisingly he played down the latest illness, not sure whether it had been linked to his bout of shingles earlier in the year.
He told reporters in his pre-tournament press conference: “I still pretty much got everything done that I needed to do. I was supposed to practice on Monday here. I travelled on Sunday. Sunday afternoon was when I started to feel a bit sick. It was Monday/Tuesday didn’t feel great. But I still practiced a bit on Tuesday.
“Then I feel much better just now. I’ve just got a cough now, but I was just a bit sick for a couple of days.
“It’s been frustrating, obviously, because it’s happened the third time this year where, you know, so I have had to — well, missed days or, you know, been in bed for a few days and haven’t really — to be honest, it should happen more really, considering the amount that we travel and stuff, you know, how long the season and stuff. I have been pretty lucky with that over the last couple of years. I have not had too many sort of bad illnesses.
“So maybe they have just come in a small space of time. But I feel okay now. I will be all good when the tournament starts.”
Roland Garros takes place between 28 May and 11 June.
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