Rafael Nadal Aims For Historic 10th French Open Title

Updated: 27 May 2017 18:54 IST

The 30-year-old Spaniard is the overwhelming favourite to win the title at Roland Garros.

Rafael Nadal Aims For Historic 10th French Open Title
Rafael Nadal is aiming to win his 10th French Open title. © AFP

For the first time the top five spots on the ranking charts are occupied by players over the age of 30. And Rafael Nadal aims to tighten the old guard's Grand Slam grip by winning an unprecedented 10th French Open. If he does, it will be a historic moment in tennis as no player has won a Grand Slam title 10 times in the Open Era. What adds to the 30-year-old's advantage is he's already entered double digits at two tournaments this year - the claycourt events in Monte Carlo and Barcelona.

Written off as a contender in Paris after a quarterfinal loss to Novak Djokovic in 2015 and an injury-enforced pull-out before the third round last year, Nadal arrives at Roland Garros as the overwhelming favourite.

Apart from winning in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, he won in Madrid for the fifth time, ending a two-year seven-match losing streak against Djokovic in the process.

Nadal boasts a sensational career record at Roland Garros - nine titles (2005-08, 2010-14), 72 wins and just two defeats. The first one was a shock loss to Robin Soderling in 2009 which opened the door for Roger Federer to win his only French Open title, and in 2015 to Djokovic.

However, Federer, at 35, is skipping the French Open to save himself for an assault on an eighth Wimbledon. Djokovic, the defending champion in Paris, and world No 1 Andy Murray are struggling for form ahead of the tournament which starts Sunday.

However, Nadal is desperate to keep a lid on expectations.

"You have to write what you have to do, but I don't care," said Nadal when asked about his status as favourite.

Nadal has also thrived on hard courts in 2017, reaching his first Slam final in three years when he lost in five sets to Federer in Australia despite being a break to the good in the deciding set.

He was a beaten finalist against Federer in Miami while his title triumph in Madrid gave him a record-equalling 30th Masters title to add to his 14 majors.

Nadal's record on clay against the world's top two is also heavily-weighted in his favour - 8-2 against Murray (2-0 at Roland Garros) and 10-5 when facing Djokovic (5-1 in Paris).

The Spanish star will open his campaign against combustible Frenchman Benoit Paire, a man he described "as not the ideal opponent" first up.

Should the likes of Nadal, Djokovic and Murray falter, then the much-hyped #NextGen, featuring the likes of Alexander Zverev and 2016 semi-finalist Dominic Thiem could take advantage. In Rome, Zverev, 20, became the first player born in the 1990s to win a Masters title.

(With AFP inputs)

Topics : Rafael Nadal Andy Murray Novak Djokovic Tennis
Highlights
  • Rafael Nadal has a 72-2 record at the French Open.
  • The Spaniard has already won three titles this season
  • He is the favourite to win at Roland Garros
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