Rafael Nadal – Creative Commons via Wikimedia
CAIRO – 4 June 2017: The Roland Garros (French Open), one of four grand slam tournaments in tennis, officially kicked off in Paris Sunday with the absence of tennis legends such as Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.
The Roland Garros is considered one of the most demanding grand slams; while six different tennis legends have won three of the four slam tournament titles, the Roland Garros win has eluded Arthur Ashe, Pete Sampras, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Jimmy Connors and John Newcombe and cost them a Career Slam.
Although many aspiring players have shown up lately on the French open circuit, such as German Alexander Zverev who lost Tuesday to Spanish Fernando Verdasco and Australian Nick Kyrgios who moved up to second round after beating Philipp Kohlschreiber, Spaniard Rafael Nadal is widely considered to be the favorite to win the slam.
While Nadal’s history doesn’t necessarily mean he will win the tournament this year, here are five reasons the nine-time champion of the Roland Garros should win it again:
1) King of Clay Courts:
Whether you love or hate him, Nadal is known as the king of clay, the hardest ground to play on. He has managed to win the French Open title nine times and holds the record for the most consecutive wins in the Open Era, snatching victory from 2010 through to 2014.
Clay courts require players to be in peak physical condition, because the slow surface forces players to play long rallies from the baseline. This reliance on player fitness and stamina could further ignite the competition between Nadal and defending champion Novak Djokovic, perhaps bringing the competition down to stamina.
2) Roger Federer’s absence:
While Nadal has the most wins on clay courts in head-to-head statistics, Roger Federer’s performance this year has been incredible, and he would have had a good chance of winning the French open – if he was playing. Federer has defeated Nadal in their last four encounters, and no tennis fan has forgotten the dramatic match in the Australia open final when Federer defeated Nadal in 5 sets. Federer’s absence will certainly give other players, including Nadal, better chances of winning France’s second grand slam of the season.
3) Starving for another Grand slam:
Nadal has not won a grand slam title since 2014, unlike other tennis legends such as Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. We can only assume that he must be starving for his 15th slam title, especially when he was only one step away from winning the Australia Open when Federer stopped him. A win at this year’s Roland Garros would break that streak.
4) The unbelievable comeback his fans are dying to see:
If there's anyone in the ATP tour capable of making an unbelievable comeback in a match after losing two sets, Nadal’s fans fervently believe it must be their Spaniard. Nadal has shown he has the ability to claw his way to victory even when his opponents seem to be on top.
Djokovic and Murray:
World Number 2., Novak Djokovic, is definitely struggling for form. He was defeated by Alexander Zverev in Rome’s final, and his intimidating aura of invincibility has crumbled since winning French open last year.
And for world no.1, Andy Murray, who has endured a miserable start to 2017, his performance reflects nothing but lack of motivation and poor form. Moreover, it is known that clay has always been Murray’s least favorite surface.
So we can say that it’s a big chance Nadal will overcome his rivals easily. He is scheduled to play Djokovic in the semifinals.
5) Mentally present:
Though Nadal has just recovered from a persistent wrist injury, he started the 2017 season in a promising form. He was the runner-up at the Australian, Mexican and Miami Opens, before winning three titles in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid.
The question remains then, will Rafael Nadal be able to sink his teeth into Roland Garros trophy for the 10th time in his legendary career?