For Canada, this year’s French Open will be all about Milos Raonic.
Unlike Genie Bouchard, Vasek Pospisil, and Aleksandra Wozniak, Raonic has been playing well recently. He also has nice draw.
Raonic will kick things off against former top-10 player Janko Tipsarevic Sunday – definitely a tough match, but one Raonic should win as he’s 4-0 against him.
His quarter of the draw is enticing, with the biggest threat being defending champ, Stan Wawrinka. Recently Wawrinka has not been looking like a threat, not advancing far during this year’s clay court schedule.
Still, Wawrinka is a wild card who considers clay his best surface. He can catch fire at any time, as he did last year when he won the French open.
There’s a decent chance Raonic reaches the semi-final where he’ll likely face either Kei Nishikori or Andy Murray. Both have had great clay-court seasons coming into France, and Raonic will have a tough time beating either.
Bouchard is tougher to handicap. Her draw will have her facing many tests, including a likely second round match against the eight-seeded Timea Bacsinszky, who beat Bouchard in her last match at Indian Wells.
Ninth seed, Venus Williams will be an early rounds test as well, and if Bouchard makes it to the quarter-finals, she will likely face Australian Open winner Angelique Kerber.
One reason for optimism is Bouchard has reunited with coach Nick Saviano, who she worked with when she reached two grand slam semi-finals and one final in 2014.
The men’s side of the draw is less predictable than it has been for a couple of years, meaning it’s not a foregone conclusion Novak Djokovic will win.
Still, the real contenders are (in this order): Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, and Kei Nishikori.
While Murray and Nishikori don’t have great history on clay, both have worked on their games on the surface. Murray won the most recent Masters 1000 clay-court tournament in Rome over Djokovic in straight sets.
Nadal is back on form as well, having won in Monte Carlo and Barcelona before losing in the semis to Murray and the quarters to Djokovic.
Nishikori is coming off semi-final losses to Djokovic in Rome (3 sets) and Monte Carlo, and a loss in the final to Nadal in Barcelona.