French Open preview with Warwick Bashford

Thanks to Warwick, former coach of Marcos Baghdatis and Amélie Mauresmo, who answered our questions. Please note this interview happened three weeks ago (before Kim Clijsters’ withdrawal). If you want to know more about Warwick, please visit our About page.

Q: Let’s talk first about world number one Serena Williams: although she won the French once, her game is not really suited for clay.
Warwick: You never can under estimate Serena. Winning the Australian Open against an in form Henin showed she still has what it takes to fight for a Grand Slam title. However, after coming off a knee injury she acquired in January, the next few matches will determine her survival at the French.

Q: How good are her chances to win in Paris?
A: If she gets a lot of matches in Rome and is physically feeling good, she should at least make the final.

Q: Runner up at this year’s Australian Open, Justine Henin, 4 times French Open champion is back at Roland Garros for the first time since her 2007 victory. Do you think she can regain the title?
A: When Justin is on her game, no one can match her on red clay. Confident with her win and performance in Stuttgart last week, this is a great booster for the upcoming weeks!! Whether she can win again in Paris, will depend on the form of Kim Clijsters, and Serena Williams.

Q: What about her big rival, Kim Clijsters? She’s been really impressive since her comeback last summer. Runner up in 2001 and 2003 is this year her year?
A: Yes, Kim is looking great and I feel she has got a very good chance if she recovers well from her recent injury.

Q: What do you think about 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova? She reminds me of Marat Safin: extremely talented but SO inconsistent.
A: To be honest, I do not know much about Kuznetsova. Yes, a lot of talent and always a contender??

Q: Any surprise player who could reach the latest stages of the tournament?
A: You might be surprised by Jankovic or Wozniacki

Q: So, your favorite for the title is … ?

Q: Finally a few words about your ex-protégée Amélie Mauresmo. Why has she never done well at the French?
A: We all know that Amelie was under a lot of pressure when playing the French. The crowd is not the same as Gas De France, where the public was more passionate and forgiving. If Amelie had got the Parisian crowd more involved like Yannick did in 83’, she would have had a better chance. Unfortunately, she did not ask me how to do this.
Q: After one year of struggles and injuries, Rafa Nadal seems to have regain his 2008 form. Is he the big favorite again this year?
A: For sure!! The last few weeks is the reason he will be the toughest to beat!! Again, it will depend on his health.

Q: Federer, Djokovic, Murray… who will be Nadal’s most dangerous opponent?
A: I believe it will be more Spanish related: someone like Ferrer or Fernando Verdasco. It all depends on whether the clay is slow because of rain or dry and fast because of less rain.

Q: Soderling caused one of the biggest upset of Roland Garros history last year, by beating Nadal.
A: Yes, but losing last year to Soderling has only made Nadal more hungry and more dangerous again. Sometimes in sport it is good to lose as this can ignite the fire up again!! The same goes for Federer. It depends on what kind of competitor you are.

Q: What about Spanish veterans like Ferrero and Robredo, they seem to have found their mojo back?
A: Yes, as I said earlier it will depend a lot on everyone’s preparation and how they handle the pressure during a big Grand Slam. This is nothing new for Nadal!!

Q: The last Frenchman to win Roland Garros was Yannick Noah in 1983, and the last finalist was Henri Leconte in 1988. Do you see any French winner in the years to come?
A: France has a great record when you look at how many players they are producing since juniors coming out of the system. I believe it is going to be very soon! You never know, Jo Wilfried Tsonga might be the dark horse this year??

Q: So, your favorite for the title is … ?
A: NADAL, but I hope ‘THE FED’ can do it again.

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