Five Roland Garros contenders: Rafael Nadal still very much the boss at French Open
We know Rafael Nadal is favourite to win a 12th Coupe des Mousquetaires, but does Roger Federer make it as one of our contenders for the title at Roland Garros this year?
For a few weeks everyone was getting giddy that Rafael Nadal had lost his edge on clay and felt he could well be dethroned at the French Open this year. After all, he failed to defend his titles in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid.
But then came the Italian Open and Nadal gave everyone a reminder why he is still the player to beat at Roland Garros. He was quite ruthless during most of the final against Novak Djokovic as if to say “yep, I’m still the boss on clay and can pull these off whenever I want”.
It will take something special from one of his opponents to deny him a 12th Coupe des Mousquetaires.
The second favourite behind Nadal, Djokovic backed up his credentials by winning the Madrid Open, beating the likes of Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to lifting the trophy.
Besides the prestige of winning a 16th Grand Slam title, Djokovic will also be gunning for another “Nole Slam” that could see him hold all four majors simultaneously again. Oh and did we mention it will keep his hopes of a Calendar Grand Slam alive?
Nadal is always the favourite on the red dirt, but the beauty of sport is that anything can happen on any given day and Djokovic certainly has it in him to beat the Spaniard.
A semi-finalist in 2016 and 2017 and a runner-up to Nadal in 2018, Thiem has clearly been knocking on the door at Roland Garros. He is also in decent form having won the Barcelona Open, beating Nadal in the semi-final, while he also beat Roger Federer in the quarters in Madrid.
Juan Martin del Potro is the danger man in terms of the quarter-final at Roland Garros this year while Djokovic is likely to be his semi-final opponent, but Thiem has an excellent record against the top dogs.
The Greek is certainly the name on a lot of people’s lips these days after an explosive start to the 2019 season saw him beat Federer in the Australian Open last 16.
Since then he has won the Open 13, finished runner-up to Federer in Dubai, won in Estoril, was beaten by Djokovic in the Madrid final and lost to Nadal in the Italian Open semi-final.
Tsitsipas is a serious contender and he has overtaken the likes of Alexander Zverev and Karen Khachanov as the Next Gen star most likely to get a major breakthrough.
There are certainly some dangerous players in his quarter as he could meet Stan Wawrinka or Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round, Federer in the quarter-final and Nadal in the semi-final. Beating top players in consecutive matches is often the downfall for the young guns.
We were torn between Federer and Zverev and, despite the latter winning the Geneva Open, we went with the Swiss Maestro because of his experience and the fact that Zverev has looked out of sorts for most of the season.
No one is quite sure what to expect from Federer at Roland Garros as it is the first time he is playing there since 2015 and he hasn’t set the world alight during his appearances in Madrid and Rome.
It is difficult to see him beat the likes of Nadal and Djokovic or outlast the young guns in a five-set match, but as he said before the start of the tournament, he is going into Roland Garros with the same mindset he had before the 2017 Australian Open and we all know what happened in Melbourne two years ago.
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