JOEL DRUCKER: Rafael Nadal
Doesn’t matter that he lost in his only prior 2020 clay-court event. Doesn’t matter that there’s a good chance autumn conditions could minimize off-the-charts topspin. What matters: he’s Nadal.
MATT FITZGERALD: Novak Djokovic
It’s 2020: all bets are off. Novak is more than due for a return to championship Sunday in Paris and hasn’t lost a completed match this year.
STEVE FLINK: Novak Djokovic
Fresh from his Rome triumph, the Serbian has the confidence he needs. Thiem landing on Nadal’s half of the draw also helps.
CALE HAMMOND: Rafael Nadal
Statistically speaking, Rafa to win Roland Garros is the safest bet the sport has ever seen, and will ever see. He’s 93-2 in Paris and a perfect 12-0 in finals. Not picking Rafa to win is borderline selfish, attention-seeking behavior.
ED MCGROGAN: Novak Djokovic
He doesn't have to beat both Thiem and Nadal; he's seamlessly transitioned to clay from hard courts and a hard place; he won't be lacking for motivation. His quarter is pretty cushy, too.
NINA PANTIC: Rafael Nadal
His loss to Schwartzman in Rome was surprising, but the world No. 2 will have a few rounds to settle in. Given how little he’s played, health shouldn't be an issue.
JORDAAN SANFORD: Novak Djokovic
The world No. 1 managed to put the past in the past in Rome. The Serb’s draw to the semifinals poses no threats, and as such, he'll likely have a full tank left for the rest of the journey.
STEVE TIGNOR: Rafael Nadal
Rafa may have to go through Fognini, Zverev, Thiem and Djokovic to win, but can you really bet on him to lose at Roland Garros?
All photos from FFT or Getty Images.
JOEL DRUCKER: Simona Halep
Two Grand Slam title runs have shelved the lion’s share of her demons. Halep has spent months in Europe, training—no doubt with trademark rigor.
MATT FITZGERALD: Garbine Muguruza
New York didn’t go to plan, but a great week in Rome, where she beat Stephens, Gauff, Konta and Azarenka, before losing in three to Halep, prepared the Spaniard nicely for a return to the winner's circle at the site of her first major.
STEVE FLINK: Simona Halep
She has done it before and is primed to win Roland Garros again.
CALE HAMMOND: Simona Halep
With Barty, Andreescu and Osaka on the sidelines, this certainly feels like Halep’s tournament to win.
ED MCGROGAN: Simona Halep
Is she the biggest women's favorite at a Slam since Serena's glory days? Based on her recent run, that case could be made. Her serve is always a concern when facing a big returner, but to me, there's no other choice.
NINA PANTIC: Simona Halep
After raising her first Rome title, Halep is riding high. The former Roland Garros champion should also benefit from not overplaying and training more on clay by skipping New York.
JORDAAN SANFORD: Simona Halep
The world No. 2 hasn’t lost match since returning to the tour, and both events were on the dirt. She’s more than comfortable on this surface, which will give her a strong advantage given the short season.
STEVE TIGNOR: Simona Halep
Like Rafa, Halep is in the tougher half, but she’s won here before, she just won in Rome, and the only player ranked above her, Ash Barty, is absent.
Men's Dark Horse (seeded No. 20 or lower)
JOEL DRUCKER: Borna Coric
A combination of confidence gained from his spirited comeback versus Tsitsipas and pitbull-like baseline game add up to fine potential for a good run on the clay.
MATT FITZGERALD: Casper Ruud
For a guy who was “pumped to be back on clay,” a potential signature win could be on the line for the Norwegian in the third round against Thiem.
STEVE FLINK: Borna Coric
The Croatian is coming off a fine US Open, rallying past Tsitsipas during a quarterfinal run.
CALE HAMMOND: Dusan Lajovic
Garin and Ruud are better players than Lajovic, outside the Top 20, but the Serb has the easier draw. Garin will likely play Djokovic in the fourth round, while Ruud could face Thiem in the third round. Lajovic, meanwhile, is perfectly capable of upsetting Medvedev in the fourth round.
ED MCGROGAN: Dusan Lajovic
The Serb is in a quarter without Nadal, Djokovic or Thiem—the "Quarter of Life," as I call it. Medvedev is there, but the No. 4 seed is just 10-17 lifetime on clay. Lajovic played well in Rome and is into the Hamburg quarters; in this quarter full of one-handed backhands, watch out for Lajovic's.
NINA PANTIC: Ugo Humbert
The 22-year-old’s section of the draw screams opportunity. He’s fresh off his first career Top 10 win, over Medvedev in Hamburg, and is poised for a breakthrough on a bigger stage.
JORDAAN SANFORD: Borna Coric
The Croatian has been dealt a solid draw and could make a run in Paris, if he comes with the same determination he had when he defeated Tsitsipas earlier this month in New York.
STEVE TIGNOR: Dusan Lajovic
The Serb likes clay, he’s had a couple of solid wins this fall on it, and he’s in the easiest quarter of the draw.
Women's Dark Horse (seeded No. 20 or lower)
JOEL DRUCKER: Jennifer Brady
No reason for the great tennis she’s played to stop. A big serve and even better forehand can take her far.
MATT FITZGERALD: Jelena Ostapenko
Throw a dart at the bottom half and your dark horse is as good as mine. The 2017 champ could get Karolina Pliskova in round two.
STEVE FLINK: Jennifer Brady
After the her US Open, anything is possible.
CALE HAMMOND: Fiona Ferro
The Frenchwoman captured her first title in Palermo in August, and has the game to make a deep run on her home soil.
ED MCGROGAN: Jennifer Brady
Like Halep as champion, there's no other pick that makes sense. Seeded 21st, Brady is playing like a Top 5 player, and maybe she'll get there someday. A third-rounder against Muguruza is mouth-watering.
NINA PANTIC: Jennifer Brady
Following up a Grand Slam breakthrough is a challenge, and yet Brady is still expected to do so, having landed in a nice part of the draw with the unpredictable Muguruza the highest seed nearby.
JORDAAN SANFORD: Jennifer Brady
The American is on fire. She lifted up her first title after months away, then went on to reach the US Open semifinal. Although she hasn’t had much time to prepare, the 25-year-old is full of confidence.
STEVE TIGNOR: Karolina Muchova
The 22nd seed hasn’t played since her fourth-round run at the US Open, but she’s a player on the rise, and she’s in Kenin’s section of the draw.
Men's Bust (seeded No. 10 or higher)
JOEL DRUCKER: Stefanos Tsitsipas
The engaging Greek said it took months to recover from his epic loss to Wawrinka in Paris last year. So what’s the recovery cycle for US Open defeat to Coric after seeing six match points vanish?
MATT FITZGERALD: Stefanos Tsitsipas
After last year’s Roland Garros heartbreak, it took Stef some time to move pass the defeat. History could repeat itself after his US Open collapse.
STEVE FLINK: Gael Monfils
The No. 8 seed is not playing anything like he did earlier in the year.
CALE HAMMOND: Gael Monfils
In his last two tournaments, Monfils lost to Dominik Koepfer and Yannick Hanfmann in straight sets. The Frenchman can’t be feeling too confident ahead of his home Slam.
ED MCGROGAN: Daniil Medvedev
His record on clay speaks for itself, and while he's away from the Big Trois, he could face all kinds of early challenges in Fucsovics, Mannarino, Ramos-Vinolas, Lajovic or Rublev.
NINA PANTIC: Danill Medvedev
His loss to Humbert in Hamburg was puzzling. It’s possible he just needs more time to acclimatize to clay, but in this truncated season, he won’t have time.
JORDAAN SANFORD: Stefanos Tsitsipas
The 22-year-old isn’t coming into Roland Garros with much momentum: he took a tough third-round loss in New York, and came up short against Sinner in his Rome opener.
STEVE TIGNOR: Daniil Medvedev
The No. 4 seed lost his opener in Hamburg, and he faces a hard-hitter in Fucsovics in the first round in Paris.
Women's Bust (seeded No. 10 or higher)
JOEL DRUCKER: Sofia Kenin
Losses at US Open and Rome marked by previously unseen passivity. Let’s hope this lively competitor regains her bold qualities, but not so easy on this demanding surface.
MATT FITZGERALD: Kiki Bertens
She stopped in Strasbourg due to a left Achilles injury and, before that, lost her Rome opener.
STEVE FLINK: Sofia Kenin
Based on her form, I don't see the Aussie Open champ winning more than two matches.
CALE HAMMOND: Johanna Konta
To reach the fourth round, the Brit will need to survive Gauff, Giorgi, and either Rogers or Sakkari. It’s just a bad draw.
ED MCGROGAN: Johanna Konta
A semifinalist at Roland Garros last year, Konta is 0-4 in Paris outside of that run. It could be 0-5, with Gauff as her first-round opponent.
NINA PANTIC: Johanna Konta
Despite being 13 years older than her first-round opponent, Gauff, the youngster seems more poised to handle the pressure of this clash, while Konta is susceptible to mental fatigue.
JORDAAN SANFORD: Johanna Konta
The Brit struggled to find her footing on clay in Rome. After falling in the second round, she decided to part ways with her new coach Thomas Hogstedt.
STEVE TIGNOR: Sofia Kenin
After her double-bagel defeat to Azarenka last week, it’s hard to back the Australian Open winner right now.