French Open 2016 essentials: Champions, finalists, schedules and key numbers

Marianne Bevis rounds up all of the facts and figures ahead of the 2016 French Open in Paris

serena williams
Serena Williams is the defending women's singles champion Photo: FFT

This year’s French Open, the small but perfectly formed climax to Europe’s sweep through Monte-Carlo and Madrid, Rome and Stuttgart, is proving to be a melting pot of questions, surprises, and more questions.

Can the most dominant man on the tour, Novak Djokovic, with just nine losses to 119 wins since the start of last year, and 16 titles from 21 finals over the same period, finally grab the one title missing from his Grand Slam resume? After all, the mighty Serb has been Roland Garros’s finalist in three of the last four years, and won all the other Majors through that same 18-month period.

Will a resurgent Rafael Nadal claim a famous 10th French Open title, or can Andy Murray, proving his new clay credentials with impressive runs through all three European Masters, capitalise on recent victories over both Djokovic and Nadal on the red stuff?

Will Serena Williams, who almost ran herself into the ground here last year to win her third French title—a full 13 years after the first—bounce back in the city she often calls home?

For Williams, who owns an apartment in the French capital, is playing only her fifth tournament since her semi-final loss at the US Open just after she won her last title in Cincinnati. However, she arrives with her first title since, won on Rome’s clay without dropping a set—and she still has her eye on that record-equalling Open record of 22 Majors set by Steffi Graf.

stan wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka won the 2015 French Open Photo: FFT

Perhaps this is the time for a new star to rise to the surface—a teenage Alexander Zverev, a 22-year-old Dominic Thiem, a confident Madison Keys fresh from her Rome final, or an extrovert Garbine Muguruza—a quarter-finalist here for the last two years before she went on to reach the final at Wimbledon?

And will the absence of two of tennis’s favourites, both of them former champions, Roger Federer with injury, Maria Sharapova awaiting her ITF hearing, give a boost to the favourites or to some who have just missed out in the past?

Here, in a nutshell, are the best from the past, the form clay players this year—and some facts and figures that may just surprise.

Former French Open champions and finalists

Women’s draw:
Serena Williams (three-time champion)
Ana Ivanovic (2008 champion, 2007 finalist)
Svetlana Kuznetsova (2009 champion, 2006 finalist)
Francesca Schiavone (2010 champion, 2011 finalist)
Venus Williams (2002 finalist)
Sam Stosur (2010 finalist)
Sara Errani (2012 finalist)
Simona Halep (2014 finalist)
Lucie Safarova (2015 finalist)

Men’s draw:
Rafael Nadal (nine-time champion)
Stan Wawrinka (2015 champion)
Novak Djokovic (three-time finalist)
David Ferrer (2013 finalist)

Champions at other Grand Slams

Women’s draw: Serena Williams; Angelique Kerber; Venus Williams; Victoria Azarenka; Kuznetsova; Stosur; Petra Kvitova

Men’s draw: Nadal; Djokovic; Wawrinka; Murray; Marin Cilic

Champions on clay this season

Women’s draw: Schiavone, Sloane Stephens, Irina Falconi, Kerber, Cagla Muyukakcay, Safarova, Timea Bacsinszky, Halep, Serena Williams
NB Caroline Garcia and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni currently competing for Strasbourg title, and Kiki Bertens and Mariana Duque-Marina competing for Nurnberg title

Men’s draw: Victor Estrella Burgos, Thiem, Pablo Cuevas (twice), Federico Delbonis, Juan Monaco, Nadal (twice), Fernando Verdasco, Philipp Kohschreiber, Nicolas Almagro, Diego Schwartzman, Djokovic, Murray
NB Zverev and Thiem currently competing for Nice title, and Wawrinka and Cilic competing for Geneva title

Missing seeds

Women’s draw: No8 Belinda Bencic, No10 Flavia Pennetta, No24 Sharapova, No34 Caroline Wozniacki

Men’s draw: No3 Roger Federer, No14 Gael Monfils

2016 schedule of play

22 May: bottom half of singles draws begins
23 May: top half of draws begin
24 May: men’s doubles begin
25 May: women’s doubles and mixed doubles begin
26 May: at La Defense, beginning of Longines Future Tennis Aces, featuring 16 up and coming U-13s. Final on 28 May.
27 May: Round 3 men’s and women’s singles
29 May: start of junior tournaments
31 May: start of Perrier Legends Trophy tournaments
2 June: start of wheelchair tournaments, plus mixed doubles final
4 June: women’s singles and men’s doubles finals from 3pm, plus finals of wheelchair, Perrier Legends Trophies and junior tournaments
5 June: 11.30am women’s doubles final, 3pm men’s singles final

Facts and figures

· 1.5 tonnes: Amount of red brick dust to cover Philippe Chatrier court.

· 5hrs41mins: Longest match played at Roland Garros—Julien Benneteau beat John Isner 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 18-16. Isner was also part of the longest ever singles match, played at Wimbledon against another Frenchman, Nicolas Mahut: 11hrs05mins, 6–4, 3–6, 6–7(7–9), 7–6(7–3), 70–68.

· 7: Chris Evert’s record number of French Open women’s singles titles.

· 9: Nadal’s record number of French Open men’s singles titles.

· 9: Number of clay courts at new off-site practice venue.

· 15: Number of competition courts that will be broadcast this year.

· 19: Roland Garros locker always used by Graf, who became the third player ever to achieve the calendar Grand Slam, which became the Golden Slam with Olympic victory, in 1988. She was presented with the locker door, and there has since been no No19.

· 32: Number of minutes played in shortest French Open final, when Graf beat Natasha Zvereva, 6-0, 6-0.

· 125: Court maintenance staff during tournament.

· 250: Number of ball-kids, age 12-16.

· 305: Number of umpires—270 line umpires and 25 chair umpires. They managed 835 matches last year.

· 635: Number of interviews given by players in press centre to 1,312 written, broadcast, online, and photographic journalists.

· 66,000: Number of balls used during tournament

· 100,000: Number of bottles of water sold last year.

· €2 million: Prize money for singles champions. Runners-up will each receive €1 million, and first-round losers €30,000. Total purse €32,017,500

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