Rafa Nadal will be looking to use his clay court prowess later this year when he travels to Paris for the French Open.
The Spaniard recently made it through the first round of the Rio Open against Pablo Carreno Busta and promptly said that he’d love to clinch his next Grand Slam title at Roland Garros. Having won nine of his 14 Grand Slam titles at the Parisian venue, and 47 of his 67 titles on clay, it’s no surprise that Nadal wants to recapture his top form between May 22 and June 5.
Ofcourse, if you delve a little deeper it becomes obvious that Nadal’s French Open aspirations are motivated by more than personal achievement. In 2015 he entered the tournament as the defending champion but couldn’t find his way past Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.
With his title lost and Djokovic unable to capitalise on that momentum (he lost to Stan Wawrinka in the final), Nadal will want to avenge the loss and prove that when it comes to clay he’s still the king. How’s he planning to do that? Well, he’s started to find the right balance in his game.
By easing off the aggression that saw him commit too many unforced errors in his opening round loss to Fernando Verdasco at the 2016 Australian Open, Nadal believes he can triumph at the French Open. However, what Nadal believes and what the fans want to see are probably two different things at this point.
Although the world number five has managed to find his way to the final of the ATP Qatar ExxonMobil Open this year (as well as a handful of quarter and semi-finals), his form when it mattered seemed to be lacking. In fact, his 1-6, 2-6 defeat to Djokovic in Qatar was a sign of just how far behind the world number one he is at the moment.
With this in mind, will fans be rushing to their computers to buy tickets to Roland Garros today now they know Nadal is targeting the French Open for his big come back? In truth, probably not. What’s more likely is that they’ll be rushing to buy tickets for the French Open because of Djokovic.
We recently asked whether the Serbian pro could win all four Grand Slams this year and, so far, it looks as though he could. With two wins under his belt already, including the Australian Open, Djokovic appears to have picked up where he left off in 2015.
While May 22 is still a few months away, Djokovic doesn’t appear to be slowing down. When you add a hungry Nadal, an in-form Andy Murray and the returning champ Wawrinka into the mix, this 2016 French Open looks set to be a fantastic event. Unfortunately, it probably won’t be Nadal’s event.