Friday April 24, 2015
Even people who are not familiar with the world of tennis and its many great players will probably know that Rafael Nadal has won an incredible nine titles at the event. He has played 67 matches at the French Open and lost… one. Just one. That was in the fourth round against Robin Soderling in 2009, who went on to reach the final, only to lose against the great Roger Federer. Federer managed to complete his career Grand Slam record that year. It was the fourth year in a row Federer had reached the final, the past three having been lost to Rafael Nadal.
After that, Rafael came back to win the next five French Opens, dispatching Soderling, Federer, Djokovic, Ferrer and Djokovic once again to do so. But now 2015 has rolled around and few are looking at Nadal as the clear favourite for the tournament. Indeed, he has recently been knocked out of another clay court tournament by none other than Novak Djokovic. The Serbian player, number one in the world and way out in front of the other players in terms of ranking points, seems the clear favourite to win the title this year. If he were to do so, he would complete his own career Grand Slam, since the French Open is the one title that eludes him.
But perhaps we should focus our attentions on Rafael Nadal, who struggled throughout the 2014 season. He did of course win the French Open that year but went out of Wimbledon in the fourth round. This came after a second round defeat the previous year and a first round defeat the year before that. He suffered a wrist injury that year and also a back injury that proved problematic. His year ended with surgery for appendicitis, seeing him withdraw from the ATP World Tour Finals in the process.
So what does 2015 hold? Will he bounce back from the quarter final defeat at the Australian Open this year? Will anyone bet against him to retain his French Open crown, despite the fact he went out to Novak Djokovic in straight sets in the clay court Monte-Carlo Masters in the semi-finals? Think about what you’d bet now and whether it is more likely that Nadal or Djokovic will lift the title in France this year. Will you get it right?