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Claycourters abound in top half
By Brad Gilbert
Special to ESPN.com


The French Open draw is hot off the press. We're only three days away from the first ball being struck.

Let's take a look at the men's draw. The top half is stacked with way more of the hard-core clay-court players. It's definitely the deeper half. Lleyton Hewitt, the No. 1 seed, has the daunting task of being in the same section as Tommy Robredo of Spain, Gaston Gaudio of Argentina and three time champion Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil. That's no layup. Also, in the top half of the draw, sitting pretty, is the No. 3 seed and a hot favorite to win this tournament, Juan Carlos Ferrero, aka "The Mosquito." He'll want to do one better than last year's disappointing loss in the finals to fellow Spaniard Albert Costa. Also in the bottom section on that side of the draw, watch out for No. 6 seed Andy Roddick. If the draw holds to form, the American hopeful will face a showdown with Ferrero.

On the bottom half of the draw, we're looking at four big names, No. 5 seed Roger Federer aka "Club Fed," No. 4 seed Carlos Moya of Spain, No. 7 seed Argentina's Guillermo Coria, fresh off his Hamburg win, and 33-year-old Andre Agassi the No. 2 seed. To me, the bottom half looks like an easier path for the top players to slide on through to the second week.

Keep an eye on the Argentinean Gauchos and the Spanish Armada. They've been dominating the clay-court season so far. It would not surprise me at all to see at least half of them in the second week.

On to the ladies. Ouch, Serena's got a tough two weeks ahead of her. Placed at the top of the draw, she's looking at a potential quarterfinal match against French phenom Amelie Mauresmo. Mauresmo incidentally, has one of the two wins against SW in her pocket, the other threat and previous victor over the giant, is Belgium's Justine Henin-Hardenne. Henin-Hardenne's quarter seems to be the weakest part of the draw. She should breeze through easily if she just sticks to the program.

In the last spot, replacing the usual Williams as No. 2 seed, Kim Clijsters of Belgium. It's nice to see a new name in the slot. The bottom half is loaded with big hitters: No. 3 seed, Venus Williams, I'm always rooting for Venus; No. 6, Lindsay Davenport, always a potential danger, crowd favorite; No. 12, Monica Seles; and 2001 Champion, Jennifer Capriati. Could be a very interesting Ladies Day, traditionally held on the second Tuesday.

Sad notes
Missing in action, Marat Safin, nursing another injury, this time it's his wrist. The one I'll miss the most, Spanish sensation, 16-year-old Rafael Nadal, had to pull out due to elbow issues.
 

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No. 3 seed, Venus Williams, I'm always rooting for Venus
Awww, now I like Gilbert a whole lot. :D
 

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This Brad Gilbert guy knows what he's talking about!!! ;)
 

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Awww!!!!!!!!!!!!! Brad Rules!
 

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Is this the same Brad Gilbert who claimed that Richard Williams fixed the Wimbeldon semis? Yeah right, always rooting for Venus. :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

Dont believe the hype people.
 
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