French Open: 2019 men's singles preview and predictions
Nadal and Thiem met in last year's final and could meet again this year (Tim Clayton/Corbis/Getty Images)

French Open: 2019 men's singles preview and predictions

The second major of 2019 will provide some historical impact. The King of Clay looks for a 12th but a group of players who haven't won a major as well as a couple of players looking for a Double Grand Slam are looking to dethrone him. 

notfirstnoel
Noel John Alberto

The French Open marks the end of a long two-month clay court run, and plenty of history is at stake on the men's side. It starts at the top of the draw with Novak Djokovic who looks to complete his second "Djoker Slam" of his career and complete a Double Grand Slam of winning at least two of each major. 

The tournament favorite Rafael Nadal looks for "La Duodécima", an unprecedented 12th French Open title. Despite some losses on the clay, a title in Rome over his main rival Djokovic should hold some significance as his confidence is now peaking at the right time. 

We now look to the same half as Nadal with Roger Federer who is playing his first French Open since 2015. Similarly to Djokovic, a win here would give him a Double Grand Slam. Despite looking strong in his first clay season in years though, some don't see the Swiss as a threat in this draw.

Finally, the ones looking to breakthrough. Stefanos Tsitsipas and Dominic Thiem have had excellent years and a major title would be a cherry on top despite only being in the middle of the season. The same cannot be said for Alexander Zverev though. The world number five has struggled to find some semblance of form all year but is playing a final in Geneva leading up to the event which has to give him some confidence. 

First Quarter

Projected quarterfinal: (1) Novak Djokovic vs (5) Alexander Zverev

After a shocking loss to Marco Cecchinato last year, the Serb has turned it around with three straight major titles and has looked a threat on the clay once again. Hubert Hurkacz can be a tricky first-rounder for the world number one, but should find his way through. 

There won't be too many dangers for Djokovic in his mini-section with only Borna Coric who could really scare Djokovic but that would be a fourth-round meeting. 

For Zverev, the draw was kind to him as he looks to try and trend upward for the second half of the season. He opens up with John Millman and could potentially play two qualifiers to get to the fourth round. 

Monte Carlo champion Fabio Fognini looks to enjoy a birthday week (or two) by matching or even bettering his best Grand Slam result here from eight years ago.

Prediction: Djokovic def. Fognini

Djokovic celebrates winning the Madrid title (NurPhoto/Getty Images)
Djokovic celebrates winning the Madrid title (NurPhoto/Getty Images)

Second Quarter

Projected quarterfinal: (4) Dominic Thiem vs (8) Juan Martin del Potro

Last year's French Open finalist Dominic Thiem has one of the trickier mini-sections with a number of players who can shock one of the favorites. Kyle Edmund, Fernando Verdasco, and Gael Monfils would all like a crack at the Austrian, especially Verdasco though who had just beaten Thiem in Rome. 

After a strong ending to 2018, things haven't the best for Karen Khachanov, posting a 10-12 record on the year. His draw is quite friendly for him to pick up his form.

Juan Martin del Potro is definitely the favorite in this mini-section but the potential third-round match against youngster Felix Auger-Alliassime is going to be one to watch on the Canadian's preferred surface. 

Prediction: Thiem def. del Potro

Thiem
Thiem warming up ahead of the French Open (NurPhoto/Getty Images)

Third Quarter

Projected quarterfinal: (6) Stefanos Tsitsipas vs (3) Roger Federer

Tsitsipas set one of his goals this year was to reach the Nitto ATP Finals. So far he's on course for that and a favorable draw in Paris has given him the opportunity to add to that goal. Stan Wawrinka is the biggest wildcard of this mini-section. If the Swiss can get it going, he can go on a deep run, as far as the semifinals or even a title so he'll be an early watch. 

Federer's first French Open back in three years has gifted him a straightforward path into week two. The players that will provide matchup problems on this surface are in the top half of his mini-section with Marco Cecchinato or Diego Schwartzman. That potential third-round showdown will be one to watch. 

Prediction: Tsitsipas def. Federer

Will Tsitsipas take out Federer for a second straight major (TPN/Getty Images)
Will Tsitsipas take out Federer for a second straight major (TPN/Getty Images)

Fourth Quarter

Projected quarterfinal: (7) Kei Nishikori vs (2) Rafael Nadal

Seventh-seeded Kei Nishikori has been favored with a good draw, but his health is one that always remains in question. This mini-section has plenty of home favorites especially with the likes of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Ugo Humbert, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, and more. Benoit Paire is coming off a title in Lyon so he could play the role of sleeper.

For Rafael Nadal, this is the best draw he could have gotten. He'll start with two qualifiers and then potentially David Goffin. The Belgian has dropped off a bit in the last 12 months but has been known to take it to Nadal at times. A fourth-round showdown against Nikoloz Basiliashvili potentially awaits again, and despite the power of the Georgian, the matchup on clay is just not going to be a winning one. 

Prediction: Nadal def. Nishikori

Nadal celebrates his victory in the Rome final (Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
Nadal celebrates his victory in the Rome final (Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

Semifinals and Finals Prediction

Semifinals

Thiem def. Djokovic

Nadal def. Tsitsipas

Finals

Nadal def. Thiem

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