Fritz Fancied to End America’s Long Wait for a Men’s French Open Champion
Serena Williams’ three French Open titles were proof that there was much more to her game than just sheer power; the clay courts of Roland Garros require skillful shot-making, guile and plenty of stamina too thanks to the longer rallies on the slower surface.
However, most Americans are brought up on faster hard courts, which explains why you have to go back three decades to find the previous French Open champion from the United States.
But could the long wait be coming to an end in 2023?
For those betting on tennis, odds of 100/1 on a Taylor Fritz win at the French Open are indicative that the American is very much an outsider. Indeed, there are around 15 men considered more likely to lift the trophy, headed by the irrepressible Novak Djokovic (5/2) and perennial Roland Garros favorite Rafa Nadal (9/2).
The French Open odds indicate a preference for players with a low center of gravity that have lots of different shots in their arsenal – Djokovic, Nadal and the likes of Daniil Medvedev (33/1) and Alex Zverev (33/1) being the cases in point.
But Serena has proven that big servers can thrive on the clay, and Fritz – ranked inside the top-10 on serve in world tennis – has a major weapon to call upon.
Thank you @ROLEXMCMASTERS Solid first week on clay ☄️🧱 pic.twitter.com/6t4JWdfier— Taylor Fritz (@Taylor_Fritz97) April 16, 2023
His all-round game is improving too, and at 25 Fritz is finally starting to make the breakthrough on clay. At the Monte Carlo Masters, he defeated seeded players on his way to the semi-final, where he took the first set before going down in three to Andrey Rublev, the world number six.
The good times continued at the BMW Open in Munich, where he rampaged through to the semi-finals after defeating a former Grand Slam champion, Dominic Thiem, along the way.
The Californian will feel right at home under the Paris sun, and his form on clay is so positive that he will surely outperform those 100/1 odds at Roland Garros.
Why have one French Open contender when you can have two?
Jessica Pegula is considered to be one of the best doubles players on the planet, largely thanks to her outstanding hand speed and volleying at the net – attributes that are incredibly useful on clay courts, where moving forward and cutting off angles is key.
The American is really maturing as a singles player too, and a world ranking of three is confirmation of how close she is to challenging for Grand Slam glory.
It's a first French Open quarterfinal, secured by her first win over Irina Camelia Begu, on her first match point.— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) May 30, 2022
Jessica Pegula comes through 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
A fresh twist in the #Begula rivalry. pic.twitter.com/EvEDy2Orab
A quarter-finalist at the French Open in 2022, where she also reached the final in the doubles, Pegula has shown her qualities on the clay this year too in a run to the last four at the Charleston Open and in three victories at the Madrid Open.
With four quarter-final appearances in her last five Grand Slam outings, Pegula is knocking on the door of a major breakthrough. Could she and Fritz make it a French Open to remember for American tennis fans?