Roland Garros, the 2nd Grand Slam of the year, is set to get underway tonight at 7pm AEST. There should be plenty of thrilling tennis to come over the next two weeks at the French Open. Plus a range of interesting storylines heading into the men’s & women’s singles events, with several records up for grabs for the victor. We are going to be giving you a full preview of the men’s and women’s singles events, plus provide our prediction for who we think will take out the title in Paris.
Where Can You Watch It?
If you’re in Australia, you can watch the 2021 edition of Roland Garros on Channel Nine. As of this year, Nine is an exclusive Roland-Garros broadcaster. It will provide extensive coverage of the tournament through its free-to-view channels Channel Nine, 9Go and 9GEM, its on-demand service 9Now and its OTT platform Stan. For our readers from other parts of the globe, you can check out the full range of Roland Garros broadcasters here.
Men’s Singles Preview
Chink In The Armour?
There’s no real way of previewing the men’s singles event at Roland Garros without focusing on one name – Rafael Nadal. Rafa is attempting to capture his 14th title in Paris, with an overall record of 100 wins and 2 losses that puts him down as one of the single most dominant sportsmen in the history of sport. That says it all really. Despite this, Rafa potentially has his toughest run to the title yet. He comes in as the 3rd seed, placed in the same half of the draw as both Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, and has been under an injury cloud of sorts for a significant portion of time. For the first time since the early years of his ascendency, Rafa does look somewhat beatable on clay. He lost to 2 opponents he would normally anihilate on clay, Andrey Rublev & Alexander Zverev, during his clay court season this year. But 2 tournament wins from 4 isn’t exactly horrendous, to say the least, so it’s not like alarm bells are ringing just yet for Team Nadal.
#1 Ranking Up For Grabs… And So Is The GOAT
Novak Djokovic and second seed Daniil Medvedev will be in contention for the world #1 ranking at this year’s French Open. For Djokovic to be absolutely certain of keeping his place at the top of the rankings, he must win the title as if Medvedev wins in Paris, he will become world #1 for the first time in his career regardless of Djokovic’s performance. Nadal and long-time rival Roger Federer, the eighth seed, are currently tied on 20 Grand Slams each. If either of them are victorious in Paris, they will win a record 21st Grand Slam and become the sole leader in the men’s singles Grand Slam titles.
I predict Reilly Opelka to reach the quarterfinals. This might come a bit as surprise to many, but Opelka’s game has evolved into something more refined of late. His serve will remain his biggest weapon though. He was broken twice during the week (only by Nadal) in that sensational run to the semifinals of the Rome Masters. I honestly think he might have it in him to make a considerably deeper run here.
At Roland Garros, Nadal is the closest thing to automatic if ever there was one. There was a cloud of uncertainty regarding his form at the start of the clay swing, but he has found his feet and silenced his detractors in style, by winning Barcelona and the Italian Open. Nadal’s single biggest threat will be Novak Djokovic, and he will likely play him in the semifinals. Aside from that, he should have very few obstacles towards a record-extending 14th title
 Novak Djokovic d.  Matteo Berrettini
 Rafael Nadal d.  Andrey Rublev
 Dominic Thiem d.  Alexander Zverev
 Stefanos Tsitsipas d.  Reilly Opelka
 Rafael Nadal d.  Novak Djokovic
 Stefanos Tsitsipas d.  Dominic Thiem
 Rafael Nadal d.  Stefanos Tsitsipas
Winner: Rafael Nadal
Women’s Singles Preview
We’re so used to the complete and utter guessing game that predicting the women’s singles winner at a Grand Slam normally is, that it is quite an unusual circumstance heading into this years edition. Defending champion and world no. 9, Iga Swiatek, has been in devestating form in her run up to Roland Garros. The Pole is the strongest favourite heading into a Grand Slam title for at least a couple of years. She anihilated Kristina Pliskova 6-0 6-0 recently in Rome, serving as a gentle reminder of the quality she showed during her win at RG last year. Remember, Swiatek lost no more than four games in any set en route to the title. Her route to the last 16 looks straightforward.
Barty’s Tough Draw
The Australian world #1 has been handed a pretty tough draw this year. Ons Jabeur has been drawn as her likely third-round opponent, that will be a very tough match-up for Ash. The in-form Coco Gauff could then be lying in wait after that. The draw doesn’t get easier as Elina Svitolina is a possible quarterfinal opponent and Swiatek will then likely stand between Barty and a place in the final. If Barty is to regain the French Open over the next two weeks, then she will have to do it the hard way (which isn’t out of the question).
Best of The Rest?
Aryna Sabalenka has probably the best draw of anyone. Her half of the draw is relatively open, albeit with one or two potential bumps in the road. The path to the quarterfinals looks fairly straightforward for Sabalenka. But, and it is a big but, she does have a famously poor record at Grand Slams and the next two weeks are set to be a test of her mental strength as much as her ability with a racquet in hand. In the last eight, Serena Williams or Petra Kvitova are her most likely opponents with Naomi Osaka is seeded to meet her in the semifinals. However, on current form it would be a surprise if Osaka made it to that stage, unless her decision to skip press conferences proves to be a magic formula. The bottom quarter really is open for anyone to make a big run. The other highly ranked seeded players have all suffered problems, either physical or form-related. Bianca Andreescu, Kiki Bertens, Belinda Bencic and Johanna Konta would all have their chances here on a level playing field but it is difficult to have confidence that any will bring their A-game to this tournament.
Amanda Anisimova. The former semifinalist has largely been forgotten when it coems to contending for Grand Slans, but this girl has serious game. She comes to Parisunseeded with a tough first round matchup against Kudermetova but if she can get through her, has potential to make a deep run. She is in a pretty open portion of the draw that is competitive but where she can beat any player, especially considering top seeds Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu are very average on the red dirt. Anisimova has been playing good tennis and she has looked more comfortable on court her last few matches. If she finds her groove and makes it out of round one, there is a very real chance for her to make the quarter- or even semifinal.
When Iga is on, she’s on. Swiatek is one of the most devesating players on tour, and only the very best can even have a chance at beating her. She has shown in the past few months the ability to grind and hack her way to wins even when shes playing subpar. I think this bodes well for her mental game as she attempts to defend her title. It makes me think that even if she encounters issues, unlike at last year’s Roland Garros, she is prepared to handle it.
 Ashleigh Barty d.  Elina Svitolina
 Iga Swiatek d.  Elise Mertens
 Aryna Sabalenka d.  Petra Kvitova
 Bianca Andreescu d.  Paula Badosa
 Iga Swiatek d.  Ashleigh Barty
 Aryna Sabalenka d.  Bianca Andreescu
 Iga Swiatek d.  Aryna Sabalenka
Winner: Iga Swiatek
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