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Venus Williams, Rafael Nadal Get French Open Nods
By Tripp Mateschitz, Lawn Tennis Analyst, Posted: Saturday, May 23, 2009 11:50pm PST USA
Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, French Open picks, Roland Garros 2009, Lawn Tennis Magazine Paris--The French Open begins Sunday and I'm picking Rafael Nadal of Spain to defend his Paris title with Venus Williams of the USA to rally for the women's crown.

If Nadal is healthy, it would be very difficult not to pick him to win any clay court match. His left-handed topspin groundstrokes to a right-hander's backhand are more or less unstoppable on clay. Nadal can be rushed at the net or overpowered from the baseline if his opponent can take control of enough points early on.

But it's a huge if.

Venus Williams of the USA, Rafael Nadal of Spain | Images: Reuters
Lawn Tennis Magazine, Roland Garros, The French Open 2009, Paris France, Rafael Nadal, Dinara Safina
At the French Open, the physically tougher best of five sets matches heavily favor Rafael Nadal more so than Roger Federer.

The world number two Roger Federer of Switzerland showed earlier this month that he could beat Nadal on clay as he took out the Spaniard in the Madrid final 6-4, 6-4.

However at the French Open, the physically tougher best of five sets matches heavily favor Nadal more so than Federer.

Men's Picks

Rafael Nadal ESP [1] vs. Fernando Verdasco ESP [8]
Andy Murray GBR [3] vs. Gilles Simon FRA [7]
Juan Martin del Potro ARG [5] vs. Novak Djokovic SRB [4]
Gael Monfils FRA [11] vs. Roger Federer SUI [2]

Rafael Nadal ESP [1] vs. Andy Murray GBR [3]
Novak Djokovic SRB [4] vs. Roger Federer SUI [2]

Rafael Nadal ESP [1] def. Roger Federer SUI [2]

In the women's draw, the Wimbledon champion and third seeded Venus Williams could meet former world number one Maria Sharapova in the quarterfinals. Williams is the better claycourt player however, and she will attack the Russian's serve, which has not yet fully recovered from shoulder surgery.

If Venus can battle past the world number one Dinara Safina of Russia in the semifinals, she could meet her sister and the second seeded Serena Williams in the final. Safina, though vastly improved, remains somewhat mentally suspect and could collapse on an important occasion.

Serena has lost her last four matches, partly due to a leg injury. If Venus is serving well and Serena is not ready to immediately attack her sister, Venus will quickly jump ahead in the match.

Women's Picks

Dinara Safina RUS [1] vs. Ana Ivanovic SRB [8]
Venus Williams USA [3] vs. Maria Sharapova RUS
Jelena Jankovic SRB [5] vs. Elena Dementieva RUS [4]
Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS [7] vs. Serena Williams USA [2]

Dinara Safina RUS [1] vs. Venus Williams USA [3]
Elena Dementieva RUS [4] vs. Serena Williams USA [2]

Venus Williams USA [3] def. Serena Williams USA [2]

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