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Cool, Rainy 2014 French Open to Accentuate Players' Defensive Skills

Opening on Sunday, May 25, 2014, the French Open will draw in the fiercest tennis competitors of today's world as they vie for the prestigious Roland-Garros title. However, weather patterns in Paris over the course of the tournament could favor some athletes over others.

"The weather is a huge factor in determining competitive advantages for tennis players," retired American Tennis Pro and Analyst and On-Air Talent with the Tennis Channel Justin Gimelstob said.

With a cool and unsettled start expected for the 2014 French Open, according to Long-Range Forecaster Jason Nicholls, players' defensive skills will become even more essential for securing victory in the beginning of the tournament. Highs during this time period are expected to top out in the mid-60s.

Just last year in 2013, the whole event was mostly cold and damp, which made it tougher for athletes to penetrate the court and thus finish points, according to Gimelstob.

"The cooler and more mild the conditions, the more defensive skills are at a premium," Gimelstob said.

Cooler air will persist as more widespread rain is in the offing for the city from May 25 through at least May 29, 2014, Nicholls said. Scattered showers are also possible for the beginning of the first week of June.

Despite showers in store for the gentlemen's and ladies' single first, second, third and fourth rounds, a less active weather pattern with near- to above-normal temperatures may unfold in June for the end of the Open.

"The warmer weather creates faster conditions which favor more aggressive players like Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal," Gimelstob said.

Known for their "red clay" compositions, both Court Philippe-Chatrier and Court Suzanne Lenglen can be affected by heat, which can make the ball more explosive off the court. In drier, hotter conditions, the ball does not absorb as much moisture, thus helping the ball accelerate, according to Gimelstob.

Just last year, the afternoon of the 2013 men's semifinal was the warmest day of the tournament, and as a result, the court was not as moist.

"This was a HUGE advantage for Rafael Nadal, aiding his excessive topspin, making the ball jump higher, less predictably and tougher for Djokovic to defend against," Gimelstob said. "This year the same elements apply."

Although all athletes train to perform well, no matter the conditions, the weather could favor some players over others.

"Obviously all great players can adjust to whatever conditions and variables they are confronted with, but subtle differences move the margins in different directions," Gimelstob said.

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