The French Open, a tournament that Rafael Nadal has won 12 times in the past 15 years, is just around the corner. The tournament will start on Sunday the 27th of September, five months after its usual slot on the tennis calendar in May, due to the global pandemic.
One thing that everybody agrees on is that the tournament will have a different feel this year for the players and fans. (At the time of writing, the tournament organizers are still hopeful of having fans on the site although this might change by the time the event starts).
Patrick Mouratoglou, one of the most recognizable tennis coaches in the sport today, thinks the tournament is much more open this year as compared to previous years.
Rafael Nadal has played only one event (Rome) in the past six months coming into the French Open, where he lost in the quarterfinals. By contrast, his rivals Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic will come to Paris having won the US Open and the Italian Open respectively.
"I think this year we are going to have a lot of surprises. The preparation of the players is completely different. The weather conditions make this tournament a different tournament entirely, and we have two players that are at the top of their games in Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic," Mouratoglou said to the Tennis Majors website.
One of the biggest differences, which many tennis pundits have pointed out, is that the weather conditions in Paris will be very different this time. It will be much cooler and more humid compared to the weather conditions in May, which might work against Nadal.
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Slower conditions will affect Rafael Nadal's ability to generate his explosive top-spin: Mouratoglou
The French coach, who works with Serena Williams and Stefanos Tsitsipas amongst others, believes that these conditions will impact 12-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal much more than some of his rivals. According to Mouratoglou, the Spaniard's ability to generate heavy top-spin depends on the conditions being much faster and warmer.
“The temperature will be lower, it’s going to be more humid, so the balls will be less lively than usual. For Rafael Nadal’s topspin, it’s also going to be more challenging. One of the reasons that he is the ultimate clay-court player is because of the quality of his topspin, which is so difficult to control," Mouratoglou said.
"It’s difficult to control because it’s explosive, and the ball is so explosive because the courts are fast. I think the conditions in Roland Garros this year are not the best conditions for Rafael Nadal. These are difficult conditions for players who have a great quality of topspin and play very aggressive tennis because the conditions clearly will be much slower," he added.
Mouratoglou went on to suggest that the conditions will favor players who have the ability to use the pace of their opponents, such as Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
"For the counterpunchers who don't miss and who cover the court well, such Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, maybe Medvedev also, for those guys, the conditions will be an advantage," Mouratoglou added.
Follow Sportskeeda to get the latest French Open 2020 Schedule and ResultsPublished 24 Sep 2020, 21:03 IST