The bottom half of the quarter is headlined by sixth seed Tomas Berdych, who lost a third set tiebreak in the final of Winston-Salem to John Isner on the eve of this event. He also has a potentially tough opener against the baby-faced Belgian David Goffin. Goffin was already a darling of the tennis cognoscenti when he came to Roland Garros. Then he qualified, beat Radek Stepanek and racked up two more wins before falling in a highly entertaining fourth round match with his childhood hero Federer. Goffin is the quintessential "big match" player; of his ten tour level match wins this year, half have come at majors (he also reached the third round at Wimbledon). If Berdych has a hangover, emotional or otherwise, coming into his match versus Goffin, he could be in trouble. The only other players in this section with the juice to make runs here are suddenly seeded Sam Querrey, who's had a strong summer, winning the LA title over an Olympics-depleted field after an otherwise forgettable year; and German Florian Mayer. Mayer opens his run against last year's breakout American, Jack Sock. Eleventh seed Nicolas Almagro is here too, but unless Ion Tiriac sneakily installed blue clay courts in Flushing, he'll labor to make it past Stepanek in round one, or Philipp Petzschner in the second. If Querrey can stay upright through a third round meeting with Berdych we like the laconic Californian's chances to match his buddy Isner's takedown of the Czech star...and eventually face the Fed.
First Round Five (five best matches in this section during round one)
Nicolas Almagro (11) vs. Radek Stepanek