Can Djokovic Finally Capture His First French Open?

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Paris: the city of lights, croissants and drama on the red clay. The tennis tours head to capital of France next week for the 2016 French Open and all eyes are on the No. 1 seeds on each side.

For the men, the question is whether or not Novak Djokovic can finally win the one grandslam that has eluded him? Djokovic has won three grandslams in a row and he is the unquestioned No. 1 player in the world. However, playing on the red clay at Roland Garros hasn’t been kind to him. It looked like he had finally exorcised his demons last year when he defeated Rafael Nadal – the clay court king – in the quarterfinals, but he ended up losing in shocking fashion in the finals when he lost to Stan Wawrinka. Nadal is No. 5 in the world but he’s had a rough year. He’s rounded into better form of late, though, as we’ve entered clay-court season and can’t be overlooked. Remember that his loss last year (to Djokovic) was just his second loss ever at Roland Garros.

Roger Federer will be in the mix but Roland Garros has always been his weakest grandslam and on top of that, he’s had injuries to deal with this year that have slowed him down. The biggest contenders for Djokovic are likely to be Nadal, the defending champion Wawrinka, Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori.

If you’re looking for someone that’s an intriguing bet as a longshot, take a look at Nick Kyrgios. Although he’s often written off as a controversial, erratic player, he’s kept his focus this year – for the most part – while going 14-4 on the hard surface and 7-3 on clay. If he keeps his cool, he could make a deeper tournament run than most expect.

On the women’s side, everyone is wondering about Serena Williams. She just ended her nine-month title drought last week at the Italian Open (she only played in four tournaments in that time) and she’ll be the favorite at Roland Garros, but is she worth the investment. If she’s on her game, she’ll be tough to beat but as we saw at the Australian Open, she is not undefeatable.

Angelique Kerber is the lady who stunned Serena at the Aussie Open (in the final), and she’s continued her strong season. However, clay is always dicey for her as evidenced by her opening round losses in Madrid and Rome.

Another woman that’s previously upset Serena Williams (in the second round of the 2014 French Open) is Garbine Muguruza. She’s played well this year and just had a nice run deep into the Italian Open (semifinals). Victoria Azarenka will also be one of the contenders; she led Williams by a set and a break at the French Open last year before ultimately collapsing. Can she finally keep it together? Simona Halep is another inconsistent player who has the opportunity to win it all. She made it to the final in 2014 and won the clay title in Madrid this year, but she was also 2-5 before her French Open final run and losing first-round matches in Germany and Italy earlier this year.

The women’s side – as per usual – is wide open with plenty of players that could win it all.