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Penpix of the top men's contenders for the French Open

Penpix of the top men's contenders for the French Open
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(Reuters) – Penpix of the top men’s contenders at the 2018 French Open:

Rafa Nadal (Spain)

World ranking: 1

Born: June 3, 1986 (Age 31)

Grand Slam titles: 16 (Australian Open 2009; French Open 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017; Wimbledon 2008, 2010; U.S. Open 2010, 2013, 2017)

Best Roland Garros performance: Winner (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017)

2018 ATP match record: 23-2

2018 ATP titles: 3

Biggest weapon: Nadal’s trademark whipped topspin forehand can bully the best opponent. Its fizzing bounce means he can control the court like no other player on clay. His left-handed serve is also potent and his backhand is better than ever. Add in amazing movement and fight and he is the complete package.

Biggest weakness: Tough to find a weakness in a man who has lost two matches out of 81 at Roland Garros. His body occasionally betrays the years of battles though.

Alexander Zverev (Germany)

World ranking: 3

Born: April 20, 1998 (Age 21)

Grand Slam titles: 0

Best Roland Garros performance: Third round (2016)

2018 ATP match record: 30-8

2018 ATP titles: 2

Biggest weapon: One of the cleanest strikers of the ball among the younger generation with his double-handed backhand being one of the best shots in tennis. Zverev has oodles of talent and is being touted as a future world number one.

Biggest weakness: Lack of experience on the biggest stage and a curiously disappointing record at the slams where the weight of expectation has occasionally proved too much.

Dominic Thiem (Austria)

World ranking: 8

Born: Sept. 3, 1993 (Age 24)

Grand Slam titles: 0

Best Roland Garros performance: Semi-finals (2016, 2017)

2018 ATP match record: 25-8 (not including Lyon Open)

2018 ATP titles: 1

Biggest weapon: Thiem’s single-handed backhand is his most destructive shot but he is equally comfortable on both wings. His all-round game makes him a threat on clay and Roland Garros represents his best chance of winning a Grand Slam title.

Biggest weakness: His decision making has been suspect on occasion and he has been known to crack under pressure.

Novak Djokovic (Serbia)

World ranking: 22

Born: May 22, 1987 (Age 31)

Grand Slam titles: 12 (Australian Open 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016; French Open 2016; Wimbledon 2011, 2014, 2015, US Open 2011, 2015)

Best Roland Garros performance: Winner (2016)

2018 ATP match record: 10-7

2018 ATP titles: 0

Biggest weapon: The Serb’s surgical accuracy from the baseline has been his trademark, as has his almost superhuman ability to reach balls that would evade any other player.

Biggest weakness: Djokovic’s serve has come under the microscope on occasion and it will be interesting to see how it holds up after elbow surgery.

Marin Cilic (Croatia)

World ranking: 4

Born: Sept. 28, 1988 (Age 29)

Grand Slam titles: 1 (U.S. Open 2014)

Best Roland Garros performance: Quarter-finals (2017)

2018 ATP match record: 18-8

2018 ATP titles: 0

Biggest weapon: Experience. The Croat rarely gets ruffled and packs a mean punch from the baseline. He also boasts a booming serve that can act as a get out of jail free card.

Biggest weakness: Court coverage. While good for a big man, Cilic is not the most graceful mover which is why clay causes him more problems than other surfaces.

Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgaria)

World ranking: 5

Born: May 16, 1991 (Age 27)

Grand Slam titles: 0

Best Roland Garros performance: Third round (2013, 2017)

2018 ATP match record: 16-10

2018 ATP titles: 0

Biggest weapon: His ability to switch gears rapidly during points to turn defence into attack. Has all the shots in the book and his backhand slice is much improved.

Biggest weakness: No technical weaknesses but lacks focus at times and his game plan can sometimes be found wanting.

(Compiled by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Martyn Herman and Ken Ferris)

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