French Open contenders in the men's draw
With five singles titles this year, Rafael Nadal is undeniably the best men's tennis player. And he's also undeniably been the best men's tennis player at the French Open in recent years. Looking for his fifth straight title at Roland Garros, Nadal comes into this year's French Open with a surprising straight-set loss on clay to rival Roger Federer.
A French Open title is the only Grand Slam championship that has eluded Roger Federer so far. Once considered to be untouchable, Federer relinquished the No. 1 ranking to rival Rafael Nadal in the past year. A finalist each of the last three years, Federer lost each time to Nadal, including a 6-1, 6-4, 6-0 drubbing last year. Still, Federer became just the second man to twice defeat Nadal on clay with a title win in Madrid the week before this year's French Open.
With three singles titles so far this year, Andy Murray has climbed up to a career-high ranking of No. 3. Murray has never won a tournament on clay, nor has he ever reached a final on the surface. His French Open record stands at 2-2: He lost in the first round in 2006 and in the third round in 2008.
The first professional tennis title Novak Djokovic won was on a clay court, and his most recent ATP Tour title -- won at the inaugural tournament in Belgrade, Serbia -- also came on clay. Djokovic has reached the semifinals each of the past two years at the French Open and has an overall record of 15-4 at the tournament.
Only one of Tommy Robredo's nine career ATP Tour singles titles has come on a surface other than clay. The Spaniard has two title victories on clay this year, both of which came in February. The French Open has been Robredo's best tournament of the Grand Slams, as he has reached the quarterfinals three times, the fourth round three times and the third round twice en route to an overall record of 25-8 at Roland Garros. Robredo is currently ranked 17th.
Juan Carlos Ferrero
The first time Juan Carlos Ferrero played in the main draw of the French Open, in 2000, he reached the semifinals. In the next three years, Ferrero fell in the semifinals once, the finals once and won the tournament once. Since then, however, he has a 7-5 record at the event. Ferrero's one title victory this year came on clay in Morocco.
Currently ranked No. 13, David Ferrer has reached finals on both hard and clay courts this year. In late April, after beating Tommy Robredo and Fernando Gonzalez, Ferrer finished as the runner-up to Rafael Nadal in Barcelona. A quarterfinalist at last year's French Open, he has a record of 14-6 at the tournament.
Near his career-high ranking of No. 7, Fernando Verdasco is currently No. 8. Both of his two career ATP Tour titles have come on clay, one of which he earned in 2004 and one of which came in 2008. Verdasco has reached the quarterfinals in each of the last three clay events he played, with top players Rafael Nadal, Fernando Gonzalez and Novak Djokovic ending his runs. Verdasco reached his first Grand Slam semifinal at the Australian Open earlier this year.