Monday May 22, 2017
Last year, Rafael Nadal exited at the third-round stage of the French Open at Roland Garros. His last title had come two years earlier, when he had beaten Novak Djokovic (last year’s first-time winner of the title) in four sets. But the 2014 French Open had been followed by struggles with injury, and he missed the US Open that year.
His Grand Slam results in 2015 included two quarter-finals, a second round and a third round. Things did not improve last year either, with a first-round exit at the Australian Open, a third-round exit at the French, and a fourth-round exit at the US Open. He missed Wimbledon altogether.
So, few people thought he might reach the final at the Australian Open to begin 2017 in good style. This was a match for the ages, as he faced the great Roger Federer, with the latter winning his first Grand Slam since Wimbledon in 2012.
Perhaps now, then, we are entitled to wonder if Nadal could achieve something truly great – a 10th title at the French Open. Now it seems altogether possible he could, especially after securing his 10th Monte-Carlo Masters title on clay. He also went on to claim his 10th Barcelona Open title on clay, so his clay-court form is clearly on target for a good performance in France this year.
At the time of writing, he was facing Dominic Thiem in the quarter-final of the Italian Open. But all eyes will be watching the French Open at Roland Garros, which begins on 22nd May and concludes on 11th June. Roger Federer, never as sure on clay as Nadal, will not be playing. But many other great players will be, and it is far from a foregone conclusion that Nadal will lift the Coupe des Mousquetaires for the 10th time. However, few would now bet against him, as he has had the best start to the year for a while now.
His performance to become runner-up of the Australian Open this year has made many people, players and fans alike, sit up and take notice. That isn’t likely to change anytime soon. Would you bet against him?