Last updated on January 13th, 2022
Rafael Nadal will head into the French Open as the favourite, as the Spanish star is looking to secure his 14th Roland Garros crown.
Having won the tournament last year, the world number three, who is an absolute master on the clay, is rated as the clear frontrunner by the bookies. Priced at 1.91 to claim the title, he’s well ahead of Novak Djokovic (4.50), Dominic Thiem (7), Stefanos Tsitsipas (8), Andrey Rublev (21) and Roger Federer (34).
Fresh from winning the Barcelona Open, where he eventually ousted Tsitsipas in a gruelling three hour and 38 minute marathon, this will have been a good confidence boost. Upon considering he hasn’t been at his best in 2021, the win was definitely a timely one.
Courtesy of Wiki Nadal
His famous uncle, Toni Nadal, offered his insight when speaking after the win, saying: “It was not a great game, I think neither of them played well, although it was very exciting. For Rafel, I think it was something important. That he is able to beat the 5 in the world, and win without playing very well, with mistakes that he normally does not make, is something that can give him a lot of morale for the following tournaments.”
With Djokovic set to be his fiercest rival, their past matches have usually been epic affairs. On clay, however, Nadal has only lost seven of their 25 encounters. But interestingly the Serb did beat him once at the French Open and four times in Masters finals.
When asked about Nadal, fellow Spanish tennis player, Pablo Carreno Busta, noted what a force the veteran still is. “Although he is not at his best level, because it has been very, very high and it is not easy to maintain or recover it, because he had not played since Australia, Rafael Nadal, especially on clay, is the best player there is right now and there has been in tennis history,” he said
“You must be very clear about the weapons and (play) a very round match to be able to hurt him and hope that he is not at his best level. He’s a favorite for all clay-court tournaments. He is always counted for the title.”
Even though Nadal’s 34, there’s no doubting what a class act he is and what a master he is on clay, which makes it completely understandable why he’s the man to beat at the French Open yet again.