ParisAccording to most European bookmakers, Rafael Nadal is below Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz in the list of Roland Garros championship candidates.
Nadal to Roland Garros with a record of three wins and two losses on clay. He first went empty-handed on the court of his forte when he entered Roland Garros. Nadal has just come back foot injury, after six weeks of rib fracture treatment. Fitness is therefore a big question mark for the star who will turn 36 months later.
“This is understandable, because injury has always been Nadal’s biggest opponent in Paris,” former world number one Mats Wilander commented on Eurosport about Nadal being ranked below Djokovic and Alcaraz in the championship contenders. He added: “If Nadal is healthy, he’ll be the front-runner. He’s only lost three matches in 17 years at Roland Garros, which is unbelievable.”
Nadal won 105 matches at Roland Garros, winning 13 of his 17 appearances. He has never been absent from a clay Grand Slam since his first appearance in 2005. In 2009, Nadal lost to Robin Soderling in the fourth round and Roger Federer then beat this same opponent in the final. When Djokovic won his first Roland Garros title in 2016, Nadal withdrew in the third round due to an injury. The Spaniard previously lost to his rival in the quarterfinals of 2015. Nadal last year lost against Djokovic after four sets in the semi-finals.
Djokovic, thanks to back impressive at two Masters 1000 in Madrid and Rome, was rated by the bookie as the number one candidate at Roland Garros. Djokovic last year defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final despite losing by two sets. The Serbian player can meet Nadal in the quarterfinals, then Carlos Alcaraz or Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals.
Alcaraz was the first teen player to beat Nadal on clay, at the Madrid Open earlier this month. He then became the first man to beat both Nadal and Djokovic in the same tournament. The young Spanish talent is also the first person in 17 years to win all three of the world’s top tennis players en route to winning an event. Alcaraz has won the most championships since the beginning of the year, with four titles, two of which are Masters 1000.
Standing below Alcaraz in the championship candidates is Stefanos Tsitsipas, who won 14 clay court matches this year, won the Monte Carlo Masters, reached the Rome Masters final and the Madrid Open semi-finals. Tsitsipas on his way to find his first Grand Slam, after missing his first chance at Roland Garros last year.
Roland Garros starts May 22 and ends with the men’s singles final on June 5.
Vy Anh (according to Eurosport)
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