Men's draw: Biggest takeaways

Men’s draw throws up prospect of some dramatic fare at Roland-Garros 2019.

 - Ian Chadband

After the men's draw was unveiled on Thursday evening in Paris, we've broken it down to see just what might unfold across the next fortnight in the French capital.

Rafa’s gentle start toward 12th title

No wonder Rafael Nadal seemed all smiles at the draw as he glanced at his initial kind road towards the prospect of a record-extending 12th title.

Star French judoka Teddy Riner, who conducted the draw, did his tennis hero a huge favour since Nadal has not only drawn a qualifier in his opening round but also in the second round, offering him potentially the most straightforward of platforms from which to launch his latest assault.

Things will start to get more challenging in the third round when he is scheduled to meet the 27th seed David Goffin, who has given him plenty of trouble in the past, even defeating him in the ATP finals two years ago.

The last time they met, though, in Barcelona last year, Nadal, rather ominously, ‘bagelled’ the Belgian in the second set of a one-sided affair.


Nadal's fourth round opponent is most likely to be Guido Pella, the Argentine leftie to whom he’s never lost a match at three attempts, while either Kei Nishikori or Daniil Medvedev will await in the quarters. 

The dream match-up with Roger Federer, should that come to pass, would happen in the semi-final with a scheduled heavyweight showdown lined up for Novak Djokovic, or perhaps Dominic Thiem, in the final.

Djokovic needs to be sharp

Novak Djokovic, whose clay-court form has suggested he could enjoy a good run at regaining the title he won in 2016, has been given an intriguing opening encounter with Hubert Hurkacz, who showed promising form to come through qualifiers and reach the last 16 in Madrid.

The 22-year-old Pole, who reached his career-high ranking of 43 earlier this month and has already beaten three top-tenners this year, also had a good run at Indian Wells where he reached the quarter-finals. So if he’s not on his game, this could be the sort of first round opponent to offer a real challenge to the world No.1.

Novak Djokovic - Roland-Garros 2019 - entraînement©Nicolas Gouhier / FFT

Karlovic-Lopez: 77 years young

Has there ever been a first-round tie to feature such a venerable pairing as 40-year-old Ivo Karlovic and 37-year-old Feliciano Lopez? The elegant Spanish leftie and his boom, boom serving Croat opponent first met in battle 15 years ago at Wimbledon and this could, in theory, be their final meeting in a Grand Slam. Don't bet on it, though!

First-round barnstormers

Nick Kyrgios is, of course, always a must-watch and all eyes will be on him after the Australian's chair-throwing episode at the Italian Open to see if he can keep his patience on his least-favourite surface against Britain's Cameron Norrie.

There's an enjoyable all-Italian clash between another firebrand Fabio Fognini and his fellow thirty-something, Andreas Seppi, while Denis Shapavalov's clash with the big-serving German Jan-Lennard Struff looks a fascinating encounter too.

Long-range forecast

It can be, and very often turns out to be, wildly inaccurate but from this distance, an alluring quarter-final line-up is in prospect.

Novak Djokovic should meet Alexander Zverev, while Thiem is set to take on Juan Martin Del Potro in the top half of the draw.

In the bottom half, Federer could get his chance to gain revenge over Stefanos Tsitsipas following their last Grand Slam classic at the Australian Open while Nadal could be aiming to extend his domination over Kei Nishikori.

Federer will be happy

The Swiss superstar will not be complaining about what looks a fairly kind draw to welcome him back to Roland-Garros after missing the last three editions. It looks the sort of path to give him time to find his Roland-Garros feet.

His first-round opponent will be the Italian world No.73 Lorenzo Sanego, who certainly should not be overlooked after coming through qualifiers in Monte Carlo to reach the quarter-finals.

Roger Federer Roland Garros 2019©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Yet Federer would still realistically expect to ease past him, then his probable second-round opponent, Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri (No.94) and another Italian, 29th seed Matteo Berrettini, in the last 32.

In the fourth round, it would inevitably start to get tougher with either Diego Schwartzman or last year's surprise packet Mario Cecchinato likely to await him but if he passed that hurdle, you could guarantee he would be keen to have another crack at Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals after his loss in Melbourne to the Greek starlet.

Now that the men's draw is unveiled, you can use this information to start creating your dream team in the Roland-Garros Fantasy Game!