As we approach the start of the French Open, tennis fans are looking forward to the second Grand Slam of the year, especially after the entertainment the Australian Open had to offer. Paris will welcome two weeks of intense tournament action, with a plethora of top players looking for a first title of the year, and others in search of that maiden Grand Slam.
There will be a full crowd at the Stade Roland Garros for the first time since 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it will be refreshing to see stands packed out after last year’s event took place behind closed doors. That was won by Novak Djokovic, who beat Stefanos Tsitsipas as part of his incredibly successful year in which he won five tournaments including the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
While it’s still unsure if the Serbian will defend his title, the French open winner odds have changed navigation, on course for Rafael Nadal to lead the way as favourite. The Spaniard, who beat Daniil Medvedev to win the Australian Open earlier this year, will be looking to win consecutive Grand Slams and his 22nd overall in Paris.
The current world number four has suffered an indifferent couple of years. While success down under was certainly a highlight, and the performance against Medvedev was a vintage display, which seems bizarre to say considering Nadal is just 35 years old, it highlights how much the Spaniard has struggled with injuries over the last few seasons. Having won his first 20 games last year, his season was cut short due to persistent niggles and even earlier this campaign his body has let him down, with a rib injury in the Indian Wells semi-final costing him victory in the final, losing to Taylor Fritz.
Nadal has only performed sporadically since the collapse in California, and ruled himself out of Monte Carlo and Barcelona with the hopes of winning another Grand Slam at Roland-Garros. Since then, the likes of Alexander Zverev and Carlos Alvarez have emerged as serious contenders for the King of Clay after their entertaining final in the Madrid Open earlier this month.
Alvarez ultimately came out on top, with the 19-year-old impressing the world of tennis including Djokovic and Nadal. He’ll clearly have a long and successful career ahead of him, with Nadal comparing himself to his Spanish compatriot when it came to injuries, saying the youngster has yet to suffer to same debilitating injuries as the 21-time Grand Slam winner.
“When you’re six weeks without touching a racquet and having the chance to move your body, my body is like an old machine. To put this machine on again it takes some time.” Nadal said. “It’s not the same when you’re 19 than when you are almost 36, with all the issues I went through in my career.
“You need to build again the confidence, your movements, then you start feeling comfortable with your tennis. It’s more about being confident with my movements, recover the speed, recover the way that I have to play on clay and let’s see.
“I’m confident that I can play well. I need time, but maybe this week can be a positive week, maybe not. Who knows?”
It will be interesting to see how Nadal performs in Paris. If he can avoid another injury and reproduce the kind of form that saw him reign supreme in Melbourne, there’s every reason to suggest he can go all the way and win consecutive Grand Slams and establish himself as the greatest to ever play the sport.