Who will win the Coupe des Mousquetaires? Join Tennis-Pulse as we make draw predictions. You’ll especially want to tune in if you’re filling out those brackets¬†ūüôā

For the Casual Fan:

Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka are the three favorites for the tournament. Nadal is coming off a fantastic clay season, winning three of the four big titles, and has 9 French Opens in his pocket to help his confidence. Djokovic has gone through a rough year, but upped his game in Rome and is currently working with a living legend, Andre Agassi. Nadal and Djokovic should play in the semis. On the other side there is a lot more uncertainty. Wawrinka, as always, is the joker in the deck. He typically plays his best when scared early on in a tournament, from then on accelerating like a snowball rolling down a mountain. At his best, he can beat anyone. Notably absent from the trio of favorites: No. 1 Andy Murray, having a woeful season. Roger Federer, probably eating Lindt chocolate after a 45 minute grass-court practice session, laughing at the rest of the tour.

Hard to go with anyone but Rafael Nadal. We’ve time traveled back to the late 2000s. Federer won his 18th GS in Australia; Nadal will win his tenth French.

Now, some details for the Rabid Fan!

I’ll go “eighth by eighth”, telling you who to look for and making picks.¬†

FIRST HALF

1st Eighth: 

Andy Murray, Juan Martin Del Potro, Tomas Berdych, John Isner.

Murray 

Pros: No. 1, in a best of 5 set match he can fight and gain momentum. Cons: This year he has shown he can lose to practically anyone.

Del Potro 

Pros: Capable of top 5 tennis. Cons: Injured, not as dangerous on clay and a tricky lefty Argentine awaits in the first round.

Berdych

Pros:¬†Consistent in Grand Slams, improved service toss. Cons: Mentally frail (somehow¬†hiring mental paragon Goran Ivanisevic¬†hasn’t helped).

Isner

Pros: Big serve, deep run in Rome Masters. Cons: Very poor against Berdych (2-6), surprisingly. Very poor against Murray (0-8), less surprisingly.

Pick:¬†Andy Murray. He’ll struggle but make it to the QF.

2nd Eighth: 

Alexander Zverev, Pablo Cuevas, Kei Nishikori.

Zverev Pros: Youngest Masters winner since Djokovic in 2007. Huge game, huge drive and huge dedication. Cons: Young?

Cuevas Pros: Three Masters QF this year. Clay master. Cons: Bad at RG? Huge choke vs Monfils in 2015.

Nishikori¬†Pros: Perfect game for clay, hypothetically. Cons: “Hypothetically” Never healthy long enough to reach that level.

Dark horse: Young Hyeon Chung.

Pick: ‘Sascha’ Zverev will continue his meteoric rise.

3rd Eighth: 

Stan Wawrinka, Fabio Fognini, Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet

Wawrinka Pros: Likes French Open clay, huge game. Cons: Inconsistent.

Fognini Pros: Likes clay, just beat Murray in Rome. Cons: Very, very inconsistent.

Monfils Pros: Has done well at the French. Cons: Coming back from injury.

Gasquet Pros: Has done well at French. Cons: Coming back from injury.

Popcorn matches: Fognini vs Tiafoe (50-50). Monfils vs Brown (90-10).

Pick: Stan the Man.

4th Eighth: 

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Everyone else might as well be in a black box.

Tsonga. Pros: Has been stellar in French tourneys this year (just won in Lyon).  Cons: History of tough losses in the second week at the FO. Poor record against Wawrinka.

Offhand comments:

Marin Cilic won a clay title this year, but conventional wisdom says he bounces out early.

David Ferrer is in the final stages of his career, but mentally tough and likes the French.

No way Nick Kyrgios will do well.

Pick: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

SUMMARY: 

Andy Murray vs Alex Zverev , Stan Wawrinka vs Jo Wilfried Tsonga

Semi: Zverev vs Wawrinka. Finalist: Wawrinka

SECOND HALF

5th Eighth:

Milos Raonic, Pablo Carreno Busta, Grigor Dimitrov.

Raonic Pros: Big serve, laughably easy draw. Cons: Most comfortable off clay, year-long injury problems.

Carreno Busta  Pros: Having his career best season, serious clay court chops. Cons: Tailed off recently, lacks firepower.

Grigor Dimitrov¬†Pros: Has the game to win big. Cons: Not recently. Tough, racket-shattering losses to Thiem and Del Potro. Hasn’t won a match at RG since 2013.

Pick: Pablo Carreno Busta

6th Eighth:

Rafael Nadal. No challengers.

Things to look for:

How many bagels will Nadal win against Paire? How many desperate dropshots will Paire hit?

Can Jack Sock use his speed and wicked forehand to cause some damage?

Pick: Rafael Nadal

7th Eighth: (almost there!)

Dominic Thiem and David Goffin.

Nobody else matters. Thiem and Goffin would be strong finalist picks¬†if they were in the top half of the draw. Goffin beat Djokovic in Monte Carlo. Thiem beat Nadal in Rome. Critics of Thiem¬†point to¬†poor court positioning (he plays so far back you can hardly see him)–but on the day he moved up and dominated.

Edge goes to Thiem over Goffin according to head2head and recent form.       Pro-tip: the day after beating Nadal, Thiem was manhandled by Djokovic. A poor match-up for the Austrian, both mentally and strategically.

Pick: Dominic Thiem

Last Eighth: 

Novak Djokovic, Lucas Pouille, Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Djokovic¬†Pros: Finally conquered his demons last year and won the French. Cons: Conquering his demons made him way worse at tennis. Hasn’t rebounded yet,¬†but with Agassi in his corner it’s only a matter of time.

Pouille Pros: Won a clay court title, made the semis of Monte Carlo. Cons: also managed to lose to the formidable Pierre Hughues-Herbert and Sam Querrey.

Ramos-Vinolas Pros: finals of Monte Carlo, clay-court pedigree. Cons: tough first-round losses last two tourneys.

Pick: Novak Djokovic

SUMMARY: 

Pablo Carreno Busta vs Rafael Nadal , Dominic Thiem vs Novak Djokovic.

Showdown in the Semis: Nadal vs Djokovic #51

Final: Nadal over Wawrinka

CHAMPION: Rafael Nadal