The tennis world turns its attention to Paris next week, as the world’s top players take to the courts in 2017’s second Grand Slam competition. So where do Britain’s best French Open hopes lie?
The French Open – Can Murray Shine in the City of Light?
Last year, Andy Murray reached the men’s singles final at Roland Garros for the first time in his career. However, he was thwarted in his attempt to claim “La Coupe de Mousquetaires” (The Musketeer’s Cup) by Novak Djokovic. The Serbian beat him by 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 to become the first male player since 1937 to hold all four Grand Slam tennis trophies simultaneously.
Murray will be aiming to go one step further in 2017. However, he’s had a difficult start to the year, so will he be able to succeed?
The British and World number one made an early exit from the 2017 Australian Open in January, when he was defeated by Mischa Zverev in the fourth round. Since then, he has suffered from shingles and flu. An elbow injury forced him to miss the March’s Miami Open and last month’s Davis Cup quarter-finals.
On his return to competitive tennis, he was knocked out of the Monte Carlo Masters in the fourth round by Albert Ramos-Vinolas. He was then beaten by Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals of the Barcelona Open, before losing to Borna Coric in the fourth round of the Madrid Open. Earlier this week, he suffered another shock defeat at the hands of Fabio Fognini in the second round of the Rome Masters competition.
Whilst Andy Murray has suffered a dip in form, Rafael Nadal appears to be back at the top of his game. The Spaniard, who has always been successful on clay, is now the favourite to win in Paris, particularly now that Roger Federer has confirmed that he won’t be taking part.
Other British players who will be trying to make an impression in the men’s singles competition include Dan Evans, Kyle Edmund and Aljaz Bedene.
Roland Garros 2017 – Can Konta Challenge for the Title on the Clay?
Last year’s trip to Roland Garros was one that Johanna Konta, Britain’s top female tennis player, would probably rather not dwell on. She failed to make it into the second round, thanks to Julia Görges, who dispatched her from the tournament in straight sets (6-2, 6-3).
Konta has racked up a number of successes since then, however; now ranked sixth in the world, she made it into the quarter-finals of both the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2017 Australian Open, and won the 2017 Miami Open title.
There are likely to be some tough competitors, such as Simona Halep, in the mix in Paris this month. However, Serena Williams will be absent due to her pregnancy. Maria Sharapova, who was being tipped as a possible title contender, has been refused a wildcard, so won’t be taking part either. With other top players, such as Garbine Muguruza and Angelique Kerber, struggling to display consistent form, Konta could have a real shot at the title this year.
She isn’t the only British woman who’ll be fighting for the trophy in Paris either; players such as Heather Watson will be competing in the qualifying competition in the hope of securing places in the main tournament.
How far do you think the British players will get in the 2017 French Open? Tell us what you think about their prospects on Twitter, Facebook or in the comments section.