The French Open has only just begun but is already making for unpredictable on court entertainment. With a draw that has not been particularly kind to many of the top seeds, including Djokovic, Nadal and Federer, many had written off the British number one, Andy Murray, due to his recent slip down the rankings. Despite being consistently in the top four, along with the aforementioned three players, he is currently number eight in the world and has been struggling in recent performances. Although he was never going to be a favorite for the French Open title, it seems that many felt Murray would be fighting a losing battle and heading straight for failure in the tournament due to not having regained his previous fitness and ability, after being out of the game for a while due to injury (his back surgery was the reason he missed last year’s French Open).
However, with the Australian Champion, Stanislas Wawrinka, making a shocking first round exit to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, the draw has suddenly started to look much more favorable for the British golden boy. Murray had been set to meet the Swiss in his eighth round match, and given the incredible performances that have seen Wawrinka break into the seemingly untouchable top four, odds had not been in his favor to come out the victor. It now looks like Murray has the easiest draw out of the highest seeded players. Even if the Scot is not quite fighting fit ir on top form when his matches start, it seems he is certainly not heading for failure at the French Open – at least not in the first quarter of the tournament.
His first match of the competition is against the Russian, Andrey Golubev, who is ranked 55 and despite having created a few upsets once or twice during his career, he should not pose much of a threat to the world number eight seed. A fairly safe bet is that Murray would go on to meet the Australian Marinko Matosevic who has yet to make it past the first round of any of the 12 grand slam tournaments he has competed in. Even if this is Matosevic’s lucky number 13, most fans will expect the British tennis player to dispatch his opponent with little fuss. From there he will start to encounter some more familiar names, although none of them should inspire much fear in the Scot. Philipp Kohlschreiber and Richard Gasquet are on the cards, but Murray has beaten the Frenchman before at Roland Garros and the 24th ranked German should be a fairly straightforward match for the Brit to handle. Without the presence of Wawrinka to look forward to in the quarter finals, it is anyone’s guess as to who might end up there. Yet given the only other players in his half of the draw who rank higher than him are Nadal and Ferrer (only one of which Murray will possibly meet), his path to the quarters, at least, seems fairly smooth. If all does go well for the Brit then he could theoretically face the King of Clay himself, Nadal, in the semi-finals, as Djokovic and Federer are in the other half of the draw.
Still without a coach as he heads onto the clay this afternoon, Murray does not seem to be rushing to appoint anyone and many have suggested that if he does have success at Roland Garros that he should wait until after Wimbledon to make a final decision, lest any major changes adversely impact his performance. Given that many of his fellow tennis players have followed in his tracks of hiring former number one players as coaches, there is much speculation as to whether Murray will go down the same route again, particularly given how successful his time with Ivan Lendl proved for his game.
Yet with or without a coach it seems things are looking a lot brighter for the British player at Roland Garros. Murray might not be back to his previous fitness but there is little doubt in the minds of many fans that regardless he will be fighting hard to ensure that he won’t be heading for failure in his latest attempt on the clay at the French Open.
Commentary by Rhona Scullion