Can Anyone Stop Rafael Nadal’s Paris March?
Staff, Tennis Atlantic
Rafael Nadal hasn’t lost a match on clay since 2017, a 46 consecutive set run that will perhaps never be matched again on the ATP tour. Nadal, a player that many thought was in the twilight of his career after knee problems, has already put together a pair of seasons on clay that are as good, if not better than his younger years, and now he has the Madrid and Rome Masters tournaments to come, followed by Roland Garros.
Given Nadal’s excellent form against even the ATP’s elite on clay, he has a very good chance of winning every match on clay this season, sweeping his way to an 11th Paris title, and perhaps not dropping a set en route. Nadal has only lost a match since the 2016 French Open. However, if an upset happens in Paris, or along the road to Paris, which player is most likely to trip up Nadal? We take a look at a few of the options.
Former world #1 Novak Djokovic is the first name that comes to mind, Djokovic hasn’t been healthy lately and he’s been undergoing major changes with his coaching team, but he’s still Novak Djokovic. The competitive fire and skill that made him world #1 and allowed him to compete with the rest of the big four, and frequently beat them, hasn’t entirely disappeared. Form is a finicky thing in tennis, and if Djokovic can rebuild his belief by stacking some quality wins together prior to facing Nadal, he could very well catch the Spaniard if Rafa is playing at less than 90% of his best. Djokovic’s seven wins on clay against Rafa far surpass any other active player in terms of h2h results.
Dominic Thiem is the last player to beat Nadal on clay, Thiem has a big game that is suited for the surface, but he’s yet to win a slam and hasn’t yet proven the consistent ability to put his talents to use. That said, in a one off match Thiem has a chance against Rafa.
Some sportsbooks list Djokovic and Thiem as having the same odds to win the French Open (+900) but that’s far from Nadal’s odds, which is set at a very favorable (-225). Nadal is basically going into this as the sure win and if you have as much confidence in him as most others do, this list of offshore betting sites will be your best guide to choosing the right site. Each one has been reviewed by experts so that you can trust them, just like how you can trust Nadal to take home the win. Outside of these top three players, the odds for other players are a bit of a stretch.Embed from Getty Images
A big server such as John Isner or Milos Raonic could disrupt Rafa’s rhythm on clay, most big servers are not at their best on the surface, and they would need to massively improve their return of serve to win that matchup, but at least they possess the skillset to do it. Other players with weapons such as Juan Martin Del Potro, Fabio Fognini, and Gael Monfils also have a shot, of that group only Fognini (2 previous h2h wins) has done it.