Roland Garros (a.k.a. The French Open) begins in Paris today. RG is the world's biggest clay court tournament, the second of four Majors on the tennis calendar. For The Squid, a couple of changes are afoot.
Change #1: We ditched satellite television about a month ago. For the most part, we were already watching all of our shows by DVR so streaming via Hulu or Amazon Prime works just as well. Live sporting events were the big question mark. Most importantly, would I still be able to watch the tennis Majors? NBC Sports appears to be fairly accommodating. We shall see.
Change #2: It's time to streamline my tennis posts - weekly rather than daily during Majors. The daily posts were fun but burdensome and inflexible. If I spend more time analyzing draws and schedules than actually watching and enjoying tennis, there's a problem. I realize I may be the only one who really cares but The Armchair Squid began life as a tennis blog and I'd like to hold onto that element as part of the broader mission. Increasingly, the tennis posts were feeling like a chore - time for a change.
What better way to kick off the tournament than with my picks to win the men's and women's singles titles...
My choice on the men's side is an obvious one: Rafael Nadal (3rd seed, Spain).
Nadal has played this tournament eight times and has lost a grand total of one match - a breathtaking achievement under-appreciated in the broader sports world. Picking anyone else seems absurd. Novak Djokovic (1st, Serbia) is the biggest threat. Eventually, he will win RG, completing his Career Slam. I don't think this is the year. His results have dropped of late, whereas Rafa is peaking at the right time. If the two meet, it will be during the semifinals.
My women's pick is more of a stretch: Agnieszka Radwanska (4th, Poland).
Radwanska is the highest-ranked player without a Major title and RG has been kind to first-time Slam champions in recent years (Francesca Schiavone, Na Li, Ana Ivanovic). As such, Radwanska doesn't appear too much of a stretch. However, despite the smaller physique and tactical acumen which would generally lead one to expect otherwise, Radwanska is not at her best on clay. In her favor, though, is the fact that the players ranked above her aren't either. Even Serena Williams (1st, USA), world's greatest female athlete, and Maria Sharapova (2nd, Russia), defending champion, are most vulnerable on dirt. Williams is currently in top form and should that continue, there's not a player on earth who can touch her. Should she stumble, Radwanska might just be the one to capitalize.