French Open preview

Argentine Diego Schwartzman. Photo: Peter Haskin

A LARGE Jewish contingent is set to hit the clay courts at Roland Garros this Sunday (May 27) when the 2018 French Open begins.

On the men’s side, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Milos Raonic and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga are notable absentees, opening the door for a new challenger to take on clay court king Rafael Nadal, who last year notched a record tenth title.

Here are male and female Jewish players to keep an eye on at the French, in singles and doubles.

Diego Schwartzman (Argentina) Ranking: 12
It has already been a huge year for Argentina’s rising Jewish tennis star who did not drop a set en route to a second ATP World Tour title at Rio de Janeiro in February. He reached the quarterfinals of his hometown event in Buenos Aires and took it right up to Nadal in the fourth round at this year’s Australian Open. The diminutive 25-year-old has reached a career-high ranking of 12 and has his sights set firmly on displacing Juan Martin del Potro (ranked sixth) as Argentina’s highest ranked male tennis player.

Denis Shapovalov (Canada) Ranking: 26 
The 19-year-old (pictured) Israeli-born wunderkind is taking the tennis world by storm. He advanced to his second ATP World Tour semifinal at Delray Beach recently and also reached the fourth round at the ATP Masters 1000 in Miami. The left-handed teenager has drawn comparisons to a young Nadal, who beat him in straight sets in the Italian Open third round last week, after reaching the semifinals at the Madrid Masters the week before. Shapovalov recently overtook Milos Raonic as Canada’s top-ranked tennis player.

Dudi Sela (Israel) Ranking: 105
The popular Israeli recently dropped out of the top 100, a long way from his career-high ranking of 29 that he achieved almost a decade ago. It has been a disappointing start to 2018 for Sela, although the 33-year-old did enjoy some success when he represented Israel for the 14th straight year in the Davis Cup earlier this year.

Noah Rubin (USA) Ranking: 204
The 22-year-old earned a wild card into the French Open main draw after winning the ATP Challenger at Tallahassee, Florida, a fortnight ago. His strong form was on show when he won his third ATP Challenger Tour title at Noumea, New Caledonia.

Camila Giorgi (Italy) Ranking: 55
The 26-year-old is currently the highest ranked Italian women’s player. She has enjoyed some promising form of late all on clay, reaching the quarters in Lugano, Switzerland, and the semis in Prague. Earlier this year she made the semifinal of the Sydney International before losing in the second round of the Australian Open.

Madison Brengle (USA) Ranking: 99
The veteran won a tournament in Midland, Michigan, earlier this year and most recently made the final at Charleston, South Carolina, and the semis on clay at Indian Harbour Beach, Florida.

Scott Lipsky (USA) doubles ranking: 84 & Jonathan Erlich (Israel) doubles ranking: 94
The veteran Jewish pair teamed up twice recently but lost on both occasions.

AARON FETTER

Denis Shapovalov in action against Rafael Nadal at the Italian Open last week. Photo: Fotografo01/IPA