French Open 2015: Men's Quick Hits
With the French Open draws released to the public, tennis fans are eagerly looking on as the game's top players descend on Paris to contest the season's second Grand Slam. While I could spend hours writing and reading everything Roland Garros, I decided that I'd roll out some bite-sized "Quick Hits," to help my fellow fans get ready for the next two tennis-packed weeks.

To keep the post manageable, I've split it up between the men's side and the women's side, so be sure to check out the women's Quick Hits too! As always, let us know in the comments if you think we've missed an important storyline, match, or player to watch and be sure to stay tuned next week for our French Open 2015 Highlights Du Jour.

Players to Watch – The Top Dogs

Novak Djokovic – Djokovic has been a veritable tennis buzzsaw this year. His last loss was in February and all he's done this year is compile a 35-2 record while grabbing a Grand Slam title and four Masters 1000 trophies. Plus he's 10-0 on clay so far this year. Even a quarterfinal meeting with Rafael Nadal won't be enough to stop him.
Prediction: Champion

Roger Federer – He's been sitting in the #2 spot since late last year and for the most part he's looked solid in 2015, winning a few smaller events and reaching two Masters 1000 finals. But he's also fallen victim to a few surprise upsets at the hands of Andreas Seppi, Gael Monfils, and Nick Kyrgios. His quarter of the draw is wide open; a struggling Stan Wawrinka should be the only real obstacle as long as Federer doesn't get a nasty surprise.
Prediction: Semifinalist

Andy Murray – Murray's 2014 was a rollercoaster ride, but it now looks like maybe that was all part of his recovery from back surgery coupled with his adjustment to a new coach. In 2015 Murray bounced back, making the Australian Open final and winning his first two clay court titles—one of which was a Masters 1000. Like Djokovic, Murray is 10-0 on clay this year and he's in a pretty open quarter with perennial iron man David Ferrer as his biggest obstacle. The bad news? Djokovic is his likely semifinal opponent and the Serbian has beaten Murray three times already this year.
Prediction: Semifinalist

Tomas Berdych – Berdych has been nothing if not consistent—he's been in the top ten since 2010—but he's never managed to get over that Grand Slam hump. Unfortunately for the Berd-man, I think his window of opportunity has slammed shut. There's plenty of talent in his quarter with Fognini, Kohlschreiber and Tsonga all potentially looming. Berdych has had a better career than any of those three, but he's not unbeatable either. If he manages to get through his quarter, there's still no way that he gets past Kei Nishikori.
Prediction: Quarterfinalist

Kei Nishikori – Make no mistake, K-nish is on the rise. He made his first Slam final last year and has played well so far this year. Others have certainly played better but if Nishikori can keep his head on straight and his body healthy, he's got a good chance to make a deep run. And, for what it's worth, he's got former French Open champion Michael Chang in his corner.
Prediction: Finalist

Rafael Nadal – If you've been keeping up with the season so far, Nadal's vulnerability has been the story. Honestly, I don't want to belabor it anymore, so let's just say that Nadal's got a tough road to travel if he wants to defend his title. He's done it before, but I'm not sure he'll get there this year, especially with an unstoppable Novak Djokovic slated to meet him in the quarterfinals.
Prediction: Quarterfinalist

Players to Watch – The Up-and-Comers

Thanasi Kokkinakis – His contemporary and compatriot Nick Kyrgios has made more noise so far, but the consensus is that Kokkinakis is a more complete player. He opens against a qualifier and then would likely face unpredictable countryman Bernie Tomic.
Prediction: 3rd Round

Frances Tiafoe – We've all been burned too many times looking for "the next great hope" in American men's tennis. At the moment it's all speculation, but Tiafoe is a hot commodity and he opens against Martin Klizan. It's not an easy assignment (but at that level, are there any truly easy matches?) but it's still not a bad draw. Tiafoe might have a chance, but Klizan has a definite experience edge and will probably make it hard on the rookie.
Prediction: 1st Round

Borna Coric – Like the others on this list Coric is young and talented, but raw and a little inconsistent. He thumped Andy Murray earlier in the season but then got a beating of his own the very next round at Roger Federer's hands. He opens with a winnable match against American Sam Querrey (this is clay, remember?) but his second round opponent would likely be dirt-ball veteran Tommy Robredo.
Prediction: 2nd Round

Elias Ymer – As of this post Ymer had advanced through qualifying but hadn't yet been placed in the draw, so it's tough to say who he'll face first. Opponent aside, qualifying is a double-edged sword. Ymer has some matches under his belt, but he's also spent more time on court, coming into a Slam that can be as much about attrition, patience, and endurance as anything else. Plus he's got the weight of Sweden's tennis hopes on his shoulders.
Prediction: 1st Round?

The Best Matches of the First Round

Nicolas Almagro v. Alexandr Dolgopolov – These two have lofty career-high rankings of 9 and 13 respectively, but they've backslid recently down to 157 and 68, leaving them unseeded and set for a first round clash. While neither player has consistently had great results, both are talented who've shown flashes of great tennis. Plus, the matchup between Almagro's picturesque one-hander and Dolgopolov's unorthodox style could make for an exciting match.

Ivo Karlovic v. Marcos Baghdatis – I was intrigued by this matchup when I first saw it but after a little thought, I dismissed it as an easy win for Dr. Ivo. I still think Karlovic will win, but the injury-plagued Baghdatis has worked his ranking back up to 58 and he beat Karlovic earlier this year. Karlovic's penchant for short points and Baghdatis' injury history could put a damper on this one, but it's got potential!