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Leading men's French Open contenders

cricket Updated: May 26, 2007 16:49 IST

Reuters
Highlight Story

Following are brief profiles of the leading contenders in the men's singles at this year's French Open (prefix denotes ranking):

1-Roger Federer (Switzerland)
Age: 25
Lives: Oberwil, Switzerland
Plays: Right-handed
Grand slam wins: 10 (Australian Open 2004, 2006, 2007; Wimbledon 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006; U.S. Open 2004, 2005, 2006)
French Open record: 2006-runner-up, 2005-semi-finals, 2004-third round, 2003-first round, 2002-first round, 2001-quarter-finals, 2000-fourth round, 1999-first round.

The world's best all-round player makes no secret of the fact that winning the claycourt grand slam is a career priority having swept all before him on the game's quicker surfaces.

For the second year in succession, Federer will arrive at Roland Garros aiming to become only the third man after American Don Budge and Australian Rod Laver to hold all four majors at the same time.

Although he fell short of achieving the feat 12 months ago following a four-set defeat by Rafael Nadal in the final, this time round he would have been boosted by his win over the Spaniard at the Hamburg Masters final last weekend.

Possesses lethal forehand and has no real weaknesses although opponents often try to target his backhand. Raises his game when it matters and has ability to create winners from the tightest of situations.

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2-Rafael Nadal (Spain)
Age: 20 (21 on June 3)
Lives: Manacor, Mallorca
Plays: Left-handed, double-handed backhand
Grand slam wins: Two (French Open 2005, 2006)
French Open record: 2006-winner, 2005-winner

Still unbeaten in Paris, Nadal will be aiming to become the first player to win a hat-trick of French Open titles in his first three appearances at the claycourt grand slam.

After winning a record 81 successive matches on his favourite surface, his streak dating back to April 2005 was finally snapped by Federer.

Principal assets are monstrous groundstrokes, a frightening will-to-win, superb athleticism and remarkable stamina.

The only man in men's tennis who can claim to dominate Federer, at least on clay, the Mallorcan has beaten the Swiss in five of their six claycourt duels and as defending champion will start favourite despite being seeded two.

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3-Andy Roddick (United States)
Age: 24
Lives: Austin, Texas
Plays: Right-handed, double-handed backhand
Grand slam wins: One (U.S. Open 2003)
French Open record: 2006-first round, 2005-second round, 2004-second round, 2003-first round, 2002-first round, 2001-third round

Clay will never be the favourite surface of the American whose principal assets are his world record serve and clubbing forehand.

Likes to play fast and when in the groove is capable of burying opponents under a flurry of winners.

Has worked hard to improve his backhand with coach Jimmy Connors but lacks patience and craft on clay.

Having won just four matches on the Parisian claycourts in six visits, he is unlikely to end the American men's four-year wait for a grand slam title.

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4-Nikolay Davydenko (Russia)

Age: 25 (26 on June 2)
Lives: Monte Carlo
Plays: Right-handed, double-handed backhand
Grand slam wins: None
French Open record: 2006-quarter-finals, 2005-semi-finals, 2004-first round, 2003-second round, 2002-second round, 2001-second round

Consistent Ukraine-born baseliner whose gaunt look and slim frame belie his determination and speed around the court.

By winning titles on three different surfaces in 2006, including two on clay, he proved that he has the tools do well at Roland Garros.

His poor record against top 10 players, though, suggests mental frailty in the latter stages.

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5-Fernando Gonzalez (Chile)
Age: 26
Lives: La Reina, Chile
Plays: Right-handed
Grand slam wins: None
French Open record: 2006-second round, 2005 third round, 2004-first round, 2003-quarter-finals, 2002-third round, 2001-second round

Gonzalez mesmerised all before him with his bewitching stroke-play to become the first Chilean in almost a decade to reach a grand slam final at the Australian Open in January.

Although he was humbled by Federer in the final, he defied logic by blasting 42 winners with only three unforced errors during his dismantling of Tommy Haas in the semis.

One of the few players left in the game who boast a single-handed backhand, his attacking style of play is a joy to watch when he is on form.

Currently ranked a career-high fifth in the world, his claycourt season has included a final appearance in Rome and a last eight showing in Hamburg, with his title tilt ended by Nadal at both events.
Should be a good bet to reach the last four in Paris.

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6-Novak Djokovic
Age: 20
Lives: Belgrade
Plays: Right-handed, double-handed backhand
Grand Slam titles: None
French Open record: 2006-Quarter-finals, 2005-second round

Djokovic cemented his place among the elite with victory in the Sony Ericsson Open in April. With three titles this year, including on clay in Estoril, he has proved to be the revelation of 2007.

Possesses a stinging backhand that could do damage on red dirt and on current form he should improve on his last-eight effort at Roland Garros last year.

With his wacky sense of humour, he is expected to be a hit off court and could fill the void left by retirement of Goran Ivanisevic.

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