Rafael Nadal is usually considered the overwhelming favorite at Roland Garros. The Spaniard has won the event a record-breaking 12 times, and has lost only two matches ever at the tournament.
However, 2020 is not like any other year. For starters, the French Open is being played in late September as compared to its usual slot in late May due to the global health crisis. And Rafael Nadal chose not to head to the United States to play the Western & Southern Open and the US Open due to concerns around travelling in the midst of the pandemic.
Rafael Nadal instead remained at his academy in Spain and trained on clay. When he returned, at the Italian Open in Rome last week, he was beaten by Argentina's Diego Schwarztman in the quarterfinals.
Despite the extenuating circumstances, six-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker believes that Rafael Nadal remains the favorite to win another French Open title. However, the German legend added that the other players in the field have a much better chance this year as compared to previous years.
This year is different: Boris Becker on Rafael Nadal's chances at Roland Garros
Becker claimed that Rafael Nadal's lack of matches over the last few months could play a role in his chances at Roland Garros. The German particularly highlighted the fact that Nadal isn't coming in on the back of wins at Monte Carlo or any of the other claycourt Masters, the way he usually does.
"Even a Rafael Nadal needs match practice, and that's missing this year. He remains my number one for the title, but I think the others' chances are much better this year," Becker said.
"He usually plays Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid and Rome and comes to Paris with a lot of match experience. This year is different," he added.
Becker also believes that the French Open being held in chilly and heavy October instead of the usual warm and sunny May could impact Nadal's play.
"These are conditions that don't suit Nadal," Becker said.
He added that World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and newly crowned US Open champion Dominic Thiem will be the biggest threats to the Spaniard's reign at Roland Garros, which begins in Paris on 27 September.Published 22 Sep 2020, 22:12 IST