Rafael Nadal told he is not a French Open contender because his ‘fear factor’ is gone

Ewan West
Rafael Nadal reacts at the 2024 Barcelona Open
Rafael Nadal during a match in Barcelona

Renowned tennis coach Rick Macci does not see Rafael Nadal being a contender to win the 2024 French Open as he feels the Spaniard’s “fear factor” is gone. 

The American, who is a former coach of tennis legend Serena Williams, highlighted the fact Nadal’s movement is not at the level it once was and argued his “invincibility” on clay is over.

Nadal eased to a 6-2, 6-3 win against Flavio Cobolli in the opening round of the 2024 Barcelona Open on Tuesday in his first clay-court match in 681 days.

The former world No 1 had not competed on the surface on which he has enjoyed unparalleled dominance since winning his 22nd Grand Slam title at the 2022 French Open.

The 37-year-old, who will face world No 11 Alex de Minaur in the second round in Barcelona on Wednesday, is playing his first event since Brisbane in January — where he made his comeback after almost a year out.

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The Mallorcan was forced to pull out of the Australian Open, events in Doha and Indian Wells, and also last week’s Monte Carlo Masters due to injury issues.

Nadal has won an astonishing record 14 French Open titles and holds an insane 112-3 (97%) match record at Roland Garros, where he claimed his maiden major in 2005.

In an interview with Sportskeeda, Macci hailed Nadal’s achievements on clay, but claimed winning a 15th French Open crown this year will be a step too far for the tennis great.

“First off – the King of Clay; the best claycourt player to ever hold a racket; 112-3 at the French Open – are you kidding me? If you are 112-3 at anything, you’re amazing let alone pro tennis,” said Macci.

“But yes. Rafa doesn’t quite move like I’ve seen him move in the past. And even in the Grand Slams – now you’re playing the best of five. That invincibility is kinda over, alright?

“He still, on clay, if his health is good — and it’s all about his health — he can still be a rough out for anybody. But as a contender, I can’t see it. He hasn’t played enough. The fear factor’s kinda gone.

“And in the past, that [best-of-five format] would be to his benefit because you would have to bring your breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and be out there all day. And he won a lot of matches just because his name was Rafa.

“He doesn’t move quite as well but at the end of the day, he’s gonna go out on his own terms. What he’s accomplished on clay especially, we might not ever see again in the history of tennis.”

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