Rafael Nadal named a ‘floater disruptor’ at the French Open – ‘He could play Novak in the first round’

Shahida Jacobs
Rafael Nadal close up Barcelona Open 2024
Rafael Nadal looks on during a match

Rafael Nadal’s preparation for the French Open could not have gone better and Andy Roddick believes he will be a dangerous floater in the clay-court Grand Slam draw with the top players eager to avoid him in the early rounds.

Having made his comeback at the Barcelona Open in mid-April, Nadal followed it up with a run to the round of 16 at the Madrid Open as he defeated wildcard Darwin Blanch, 10th seed Alex de Minaur and Argentine Pedro Cachin before losing against Jiri Lehecka.

Next up is the Italian Open – where Nadal will play qualifier Zizou Bergs in the first round – and if he comes through that unscathed he will head to Roland Garros with plenty of confidence, according to former world No 1 Roddick.

“I think the fact that his body held up and we didn’t see what we’ve seen too often over the last two years where he runs and then kind of pulls up and you can tell something’s wrong… I forgot to look for injuries at a certain point [at the Madrid Open] with Rafa and I was just watching him play tennis,” he said on the Served with Andy Roddick podcast.

“[He] says he’s going to play Rome, which he should he’s won it 10 times, and then I think if he can get two or three matches in at Rome I think he’s actually it’s not the preparation that’s perfect but it’s as good as it could be based on the conversations we were having a week ago.”

READ MORE: Jimmy Connors weighs in on the prospect of Rafael Nadal retiring this year

Nadal, though, won’t be seeded at Roland Garros as he finds himself at No 307 in the ATP Rankings following his injury-enforced absence, but he will use his protected ranking to enter the main draw.

It means he could face one of the top seeds, including Novak Djokovic, Jannik Sinner or Carlos Alcaraz in the first round.

Roddick added: “I’m excited and it’s also going to be really fun when the draw comes out and Rafa is a floater in that draw. What seed could potentially get rougher first round?

“I don’t know that there’s been as fun of a kind of a floater disruptor like he’s never played that role there not one time I mean imagine if he go like Alcaraz first round. He could play Novak in the first round of a Grand Slam. Or do you get like the second round match-up where we get to talk about it for three [days]?

“This is just great where we were a week ago versus where we are now with Rafa [it] could not have gone better on all fronts.”