2011 French Open Bracket: The 10 Players With the Most Fervent Fan Support
Every Grand Slam brings out the biggest, loudest and most passionate fan bases tennis has to offer. They show up with face paint, costumes and flags. Some even go as far as to create chants and bring various noise-makers, like the ever-popular cow bell.
Let's take a look at the 10 players with the most fervent fan support.
Let's start with the 2010 women's singles champion, Francesca Schiavone. Who can forget, as she scissor-kicked and fist pumped her way to her first major title?
Her run in Paris last spring was unexpected according to tennis media and odds-makers alike. Schiavone wasn't even favored to win in the final against Australian, Samantha Stosur. However, during the entire fortnight, her most loyal fans never doubted her for a minute. All of which showed up at every match decked out in their red, white and green, waving the Italian flag.
Schiavone doesn't have a Twitter account like a lot of the players do right now, but there are a couple Facebook fan pages for the Italian star. According to the Facebook website, her most popular fan page has 22,897 people who "like" it.
The No. 1 ranked player in the world has a fan base that can definitely be described as fervent. Nadal will be vying for his sixth Men's Singles French Open championship this year and you can definitely expect thousands of fans to chant "vamos, Rafa!" to give him support.
Nadal is one of the crowd favorites no matter where he plays. However, when he steps onto the red clay of Roland Garros, the fans embrace him like one of their own.
Nadal has embraced the social media world. He has one of the most popular Facebook fan pages, with 6,450,352 people who "like" it. We'll have to wait and see how many of those people make the trip to Paris to cheer him on.
Andrea Petkovic of Germany danced her way into the hearts of tennis fans, at the 2010 U.S. Open, she said on YouTube. After every match win, she does her now famous "Petko-Dance," and the crowd goes wild.
Perhaps her most popular off-court activity is her "Petkorazzi" videos on YouTube. Her private YouTube channel has 1,667 subscribers and some of the videos have even been broadcasted at various tournaments.
It's not just YouTube that Petkovic is a part of. She has 19,901 people who "like" her Facebook fan page and has 16,832 people following her on Twitter.
It's not just her personality that gets people excited about her. She has a lot of talent on the court, too. Last month, she made it to the quarterfinals in Stuttgart, before falling to top-seed, Caroline Wozniacki, according to the WTA Tour website.
Novak Djokovic is the man to watch right now. He's ahead of Roger Federer in the ATP World Tour rankings and is nipping at Rafael Nadal's heals. Also, let's not forget the fact that he's undefeated so far in 2011 and has beaten Nadal in back-to-back clay court Masters 1000 tournaments. Djokovic has also officially qualified for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, in London, according to the ATP World Tour website.
Aside from his talent, he's endearing to fans because of his outgoing personality. He's frequently joking around with media, players and fans. He's even gone as far to do on-court impersonations of his fellow players, Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova.
Djokovic not only has a strong Serbian fan contingent, he is popular with fans all over the world. The fans feed off his energy and love screaming, "Nole!"
The Australian players have always had some of the best fans tennis has ever seen. From Pat Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt to Pat Cash and Rod Laver.
There's one Australian player who stole the hearts of not just her home country, but fans around the world. Samantha Stosur made her breakthrough in Singles at a Grand Slam in 2010 when she busted her way through the draw at the French Open.
She's a former world No. 1 in doubles on the WTA Tour and reached a clay court final in Rome last week.
She may not be as boisterous as her compatriot, Lleyton Hewitt, but that doesn't stop fans from asking her to pose for pictures and sign autographs.
Stosur doesn't have a Twitter account, but she does have a Facebook fan page that 8,181 people "like."
Gael Monfils is one of the most flambuoyant players on the ATP World Tour. This fact is emphasized when he slides around the court at Roland Garros, in front of his home crowd.
The acrobatic world No. 9 is one of the best movers on clay in the world. Not only does he slide into his shots, he also isn't afraid to make that extra effort to make a shot by charging the net or jumping in the air for a dramatic overhead.
The crowd at the 2011 French Open will definitely echo his emotion and passion.
Maria Sharapova appears to be getting back some of her former glory with her first win in Rome last week. With the win, many people put her among the favorites to win the 2011 French Open and her most loyal fans would agree.
Sharapova is one of the most popular players on the WTA Tour. Fans seem to gravitate toward her intense, yet calm demeanor on court. You'd be hard-pressed to find another player who competes as well as she does.
Sharapova is an international superstar, who brings attention to her native Russia in many ways. It's no wonder with her charity work with the Chernobyl disaster that there is always a Russian flag in the crowd at her matches.
Sharapova has a lot of interaction with her fans at tournaments and via the Internet. She stages giveaways and contests through her official website and has 4,352,757 people who "like" her Facebook fan page.
Marcos Baghdatis burst onto the professional tennis scene in 2006, when he unexpectedly beat several top players to reach the Men's Singles final at the Australian Open.
Although his contingent of fans was smaller than most, they still gave him more boisterous support than most of the other players' fans, who were able to pack Rod Laver Arena.
The interaction Baghdatis has with his fans is very rare, not just amongst professional tennis players, but other professional athletes as well. After major wins, he goes over to his fans and waves his arms in the air along with them.
Baghdatis is even able to connect with his fans via social media. He has 16,965 followers on Twitter and 13,209 people "like" his Facebook fan page.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is another charismatic Frenchman who gets the crowd on their feet during his matches. He fights for every point and has a lot of flair. He may seem mild and meek off the court, but with a racquet in his hand, he's a fierce competitor.
When they see him, people often say he resembles another sporting great, Muhammad Ali. Perhaps it's this bit of nostalgia that endears him to tennis fans.
Ranked No. 18 on the ATP World Tour, he had to withdraw from his fourth round match against Mikhail Youzhny at the French Open due to a hip injury.
You can bet with 112,932 people who "like" his Facebook fan page, he'll have a lot of support this year.
While at times it may seem like all the No. 4 ranked player gets is criticism, he does get a lot of support.
The predecessor to Tim Henman gets a lot more support than he ever did from the fans in Great Britain. Fans feed off of his passion and will to win. Nobody loves tennis like the British people do. They want desperately for one of their own to become a Grand Slam champion and Murray's come close on a few occasions.
It's not just his on-court behavior that make fans flock to Murray. He too is part of the social media scene, with 380,810 Twitter followers, 2,008 YouTube subscribers and 280,368 people who "like" his Facebook fan page.