Same old story for the U.S. in Paris?
The most pertinent question for the American men leading into the French Open isn't, "Can any of them win?" Rather, it's, "Can any get to the second week?"
If results over the past month are any indication, the answer is "Heck no."
Thankfully on the women's side, Serena Williams returns to Roland Garros after a two-year absence. Given her recent form, she does have a chance, and a great one, of winning the whole thing.
We rank the top 10 U.S. contenders in Paris:
10. Donald Young: Young says he's starting to like playing in Europe. He didn't simply make a brief pit stop, contesting four tournaments -- plus a challenger in Morocco, which is a stone's throw from Spain. Unfortunately, he didn't win a single match. But let's not be too harsh on Young. He doesn't have much experience on dirt, and this stint can only help the lefty in the future.
9. Vania King: In Charleston, Estoril, Madrid and Rome, the diminutive King went 2-4. She wasn't, however, blown away in losses to Yanina Wickmayer, Kaia Kanepi and Nadia Petrova, all solid players who tower over King. King will be encouraged by her performance last year in Paris, where she upset former French Open semifinalist Dominika Cibulkova.
8. Ryan Harrison: Harrison had a short, but eventful, stay at last year's French Open. Who could forget Harrison tossing his racket into a tree in qualifying? Harrison got into the main draw as a late lucky loser and proceeded to test Robin Soderling. Harrison, at a career-high 56th, thinks he can prevail in every match, regardless of the surface, which is part of the battle won. Gotta love youth.
7. Andy Roddick: Roddick's return from a hamstring problem this week suggests he's fully fit -- the days of him competing with niggling injuries are over. He knows it'll do more harm than good. Roddick won't really care about his results at the French Open. It's all about getting a match or two under his belt ahead of the grass-court swing.
6. Varvara Lepchenko: Why Lepchenko didn't receive a wild card in Indian Wells and Miami is beyond me. She had to go through qualifying. If she maintains her current form, qualifying is a thing of the past. Yes they were blue courts, but Madrid was listed as a clay-court tournament, nonetheless, and Lepchenko took out Francesca Schiavone, Shahar Peer and Anabel Medina Garrigues.
5. Sam Querrey: Querrey is finding it difficult to rebound from the elbow injury that sidelined him for three months in 2011. However, he won a clay-court challenger in Florida and a round in Rome (which says something). He has the game to compete on clay, too -- the kind of game that earned him a place in the Monte Carlo quarterfinals in 2008.
4. Christina McHale: McHale looks comfortable on clay, and her ability to grind from the back of the court means there's no reason why she can't have success. Second-round losses in Madrid and Rome might not appear promising, but McHale extended Samantha Stosur to three sets and played eventual champ Maria Sharapova tough in the Italian capital. Her meltdown, though, against Sara Errani last year in Paris is something she'll want to forget.
3. Venus Williams: Following a protracted layoff, not many expected Venus to reach the quarterfinals in Miami. Since then, Venus' results, including on clay, have been consistently good, barring a second-round loss in Madrid to a surging Angelique Kerber. Landing in the quarterfinals in Rome -- and topping Stosur -- was a fine warm-up for the French. Oh, no active women's player has won more matches at Roland Garros than Venus.
2. John Isner: Isner must have come to Europe expecting a lot. How couldn't he, after beating Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on clay, and on the road, in the Davis Cup? But he has disappointed, not exceeding the second round in Madrid and Rome. A few wins in Nice this week would be nice. Here's one way, though, to assess his results: He's due to break out. And this year in Paris, he won't have to face Rafael Nadal in the first round.
1. Serena Williams: Serena Williams has making up to do. She was annoyed losing in the fourth round at the Australian Open, with an ankle injury before the tournament putting her behind the eight ball. Well, on the eve of the French Open, the only Slam she hasn't won at least twice, Serena owns a 17-match winning streak. If indeed skipping the Rome semis with a back injury was only a precaution, she'll be the one to beat in the women's field.
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