'A big advantage for Rafael Nadal,' says Patrick Mouratoglou
- Rafael Nadal will be have an advantage over the others at the US Open and French Open, believes Patrick Mouratoglou.
- According to the French coach, natural clay-courters like the Spaniard will do well in the new ATP schedule.
Rafael Nadal was backed by tennis fans all over the world when he opined that the current tennis season should be called off owing to safety reasons amidst the coronavirus pandemic. However, his pleas seem to have not registered with the main governing body of men's tennis, who yesterday released the revamped ATP schedule.
The two hardcourt tournaments - the Citi Open and Cincinnati Masters - will act as a precursor to the 2020 US Open, scheduled to start from 31 August. This will be followed by the French Open, which will kick off in the last week of September.
The jam-packed schedule will naturally be problematic for a lot of players - especially those who tend to consistently go deep in the draw. World No. 2 Rafael Nadal, for instance, is the defending champion at three out of the four tournaments scheduled in consecutive weeks - the US Open, the Rome Masters and the French Open - and he will have his hands full if he wants to participate in all of them.
In a recent video chat with Tennismajors.com, Serena Williams' coach Patrick Mouratoglou weighed in on the challenge of Rafael Nadal playing the US Open and Roland Garros back-to-back. Surprisingly, however, Mouratoglou said the schedule will play into the Spaniard's hands.
It's going to help natural claycourters like Rafael Nadal: Patrick Mouratoglou
Patrick Mouratoglou believes that players who are accustomed to clay will not have much of a problem navigating through the calendar; it is the other players who would find it difficult.
"For sure it's going to help natural clay-courters like Rafael Nadal," Mouratoglou said. "Rafael Nadal is gonna have a big advantage, basically all Spanish players and players from South America. It's also gonna be a big plus for players like Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem."
"I still think the top players like Rafael Nadal will find a way, because they have a margin, and are protected at the Grand Slams. I don't think there is gonna be a physical danger of playing. Since not all the players will be in the final, they'll have more than one week to prepare for the next tournament," he added.
Some believe defending champion Rafael Nadal could be tempted to skip US Open 2020 in order to prepare for the clay tournaments culminating with Roland Garros, which gets underway on 27 September. However, Mouratoglou thinks Rafael Nadal would do just fine playing both events.
Biggest challenge in tennis was to win French Open and Wimbledon back-to-back: Patrick Mouratoglou
Mouratoglou did concede that the lack of preparation time between tournaments would be a 'challenge' for the top players.
"To have both the tournaments so close, in a few weeks, is an incredible challenge. Already, the players will be feeling that the time they have is not enough. And especially for the best ones, because they are expected to go far in the two Grand Slams, and they have such little time to prepare for the first one," Mouratoglou said.
However, Rafael Nadal would find respite in the world-renowned coach's next words: "Biggest challenge in tennis before this, was to win French Open and Wimbledon back-to-back."
Rafael Nadal is no stranger to winning Slam events back-to-back, as he has won French Open and Wimbledon in succession not once but twice - in 2008 and 2010. In both of those years the two Grand Slams were separated by just two weeks, so it is safe to assume Nadal knows what it takes to pull off the feat.Published 18 Jun 2020, 11:38 IST