French Open: Let the battle begin to the championship

(KSDK) – May doesn't just bring flowers, it brings clay court tennis in the form of the second grand slam of the tennis season.

The 2014 French Open begins Sunday, and there's a little uncertainty heading into Paris.

Eight-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal will seek his ninth title from Roland Garros, and 14th overall Grand Slam title, but the 2014 season hasn't been the easiest road for the King of Clay.

Sunday, he lost the Rome final to Novak Djokovic, which he has won three times previously. Coupled with the losses in Barcelona and Monte-Carlo, the King could be in danger of being knocked off his throne this year.

DRAW: Men's Tournament

DRAW: Women's Tournament

On the other side of the tour, all eyes will be on top-seed Serena Williams to try and win her third French Open title and gain her 18th Grand Slam title. With each Grand Slam these days comes a step closer in the record books and a lot more pressure.

Serena has been riddled with a number of injuries in 2014, including a hurt back and thigh injury. Last week, she proved she can't be counted out as she won the title in Rome.

The next two weeks will showcase some great tennis, fabulous storylines and most assuredly a little heartbreak for some top names – as is the case with most tournaments.

We'll be keeping our eye out on the day-to-day headlines, happenings and more happening in the City of Lights.

So, here are some of the people we expect could walk away the 2014 Champion.

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No. 1 woman in the world Serena Williams is probably an obvious favorite to win the title. As already mentioned, she took the Rome title last week, and she's the defending champion. However, she's only won the French Open twice in her career – 2013 and 2002. She has been the woman to beat on tour when it comes to Grand Slams in the past year, but she's not infallible.

Li Na won the 2011 French Open title and she backed up her championship status at the Australian Open this year. She's smart on clay, and although she was dismissed in the second round last year, the No.2 player in the world will bring her A-game for this tournament.

Maria Sharapova has been fighting to get back to the championship podium. She has been in the semifinals or better since 2011, and last year she was the runner up to Williams. She actually won the title in 2012. It's a safe bet that she doesn't want to finish second again.

Ana Ivanovic has made some big strides in the past year to get close to a Top 10 spot in the rankings. She won the title in 2008, and she reached the fourth round last year. Recently, she's been a competitor this clay court season by reaching the semifinals in Rome and the quarterfinals in Madrid. She could be a dark horse for the 2014 Grand Slam.

Simona Halep has risen to the No. 4 ranking in the world, and the Romanian beauty has had a good run in the clay court season by reaching the finals in Madrid and the Round of 16 in Rome. She's been making a strong push in the past year at Grand Slams by reaching the fourth round of the U.S. Open and quarterfinals at the Australian Open.


Rafael Nadal is almost always a sure bet at the French Open. The loss to Robin Soderling in 2009 still hangs above his head. He has three losses this season on clay, which is uncharacteristic of Nadal and has been shaky in all of the lead-up tournaments. Although he's been shaky, it's hard to deny that the world No. 1 will probably raise his game for the Grand Slam.

Novak Djokovic has not completed his career Grand Slam, but he has it in his sights this year. Djokovic beat Nadal in the Rome final after battling a wrist injury this season, but he's showing that he can still dominate Nadal if necessary.

Roger Federer is back in the mix after losing his opening match in Rome and welcoming his twin boys earlier this month. He won the 2009 French Open title, and while he's been dominated by other players in past years, this is a title he'd love to add to his hardware collection and Grand Slam count.

David Ferrer is the next best clay court specialist in most seasons,b ut this year, he topped him during the Monte Carlo quarterfinals. He's been named a favorite for a Grand Slam in past years, and this could be his year if he can get past the Top 4 in the world.

Stan Wawrinka has shown since the beginning of the year that he can be a force in Grand Slam tournaments by winning his first Australian Open title earlier this year. He's been a little inconsistent on the clay courts by winning the Monte Carlo title but falling in the third round in Rome. He's still a top contender for the crown though.

Andy Murray has won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, but he's not had the same success on clay. He's reached at least the quarterfinals in the past four French Open performances, but he shouldn't be counted out as he always wants to win more.


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