A (long overdue) look at the upcoming tournaments on the red/green stuff. After the sunshine double in March, some clay tournaments have already finished of course (the green clay of Charleston saw Kiki Bertens triumph in a tough field which included Madison Keyes and Julia Georges).
So, who is looking good? Well historically the likes of Serena, Halep, Kerber and Kvitova have all looked at home on the dirt. Marry that historic formbook with the current scenery and the picture is suddenly blurry again.
Halep – despite that rankings top spot has been a little inconsistent since Australia, well maybe not that bad, but at the first slam and at Indian Wells it was the familiar tale of the choking which has hindered her so often before.
Serena is still a long way back from being a serious contender, and Kerber too has delivered a more realistic comeback year, consistently reaching the latter rounds of major tournaments without actually troubling the trophy cabinet. That may change on the clay of course.
Kvitova and Muguruza have shone brightly but briefly this year, but both are capable of steamrollering a field of competitors on the biggest stages.
Elsewhere, well we have to look at Ostapenko who has found life tough, but easier somewhat than most players after their maiden slam victory. Can she repeat her success in Paris now with that all-important expectation factored in. Wozniacki and Svitolina will be lurking too and should be mentioned in the mix due to their rankings alone, but the above players have more pedigree away from the hard courts.
Nadal dominates the discussion here. Will the Spaniard really mop up all the spoils as most people have predicted? His Davis Cup form was not the perfect indicator really. Djokovic will struggle and Federer, Murray and Wawrinka are absent. Thiem has alot to prove and is best placed to exploit the gap here. Kyrios, DelPo and Zverev should also look to thrive here.
For what it’s worth, I think Rafa will struggle against those four.