No one would like to play Rafael Nadal at French Open, suggests Stefanos Tsitsipas

Stefanos Tsitsipas on facing Rafael Nadal at French Open (Source: GETTY)
Stefanos Tsitsipas on facing Rafael Nadal at French Open (Source: GETTY)

Stefanos Tsitsipas recently gave his thoughts on whether he would've liked to face Rafael Nadal in the first round of the 2024 French Open. The Spaniard is unseeded at this year's claycourt Major and has been drawn to face fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev in his opener.

Nadal has reigned supreme in Paris a whopping 14 times in his career. However, the 22-time Major winner went through a long injury layoff last year, which has caused his ranking to fall outside the men's top 200. Consequently, he had to take a protected ranking entry this year and will be unseeded at possibly his last French Open.

Rafael Nadal is set to face World No. 4 Alexander Zverev in a blockbuster first-round encounter next week. In that regard, Stefanos Tsitsipas was asked during his pre-tournament press conference in Paris whether the daunting prospect of facing the King of Clay in his opening match.

In response, Tsitsipas claimed that no player on the ATP Tour would rejoice at facing the Spaniard at Roland Garros. And while he did concede that the 37-year-old was not in great shape, his experience alone ensures that he would get through tough matches on the terre battue.

"I don't think anyone would like to play Rafa. Out of players [in the draw] he has won 14 times. Regardless of people saying he's retiring and all that, it still doesn't matter. The guy has 14 titles," Stefanos Tsitsipas said during his pre-French Open press conference. "Obviously, that was a scenario that could get in my way as a first-round match. I find it tricky because, of course, people say he might not be in the best shape of his life."
"But he's still Rafael freaking Nadal, and he can still find ways to make it work on Philippe-Chatrier because that's where he's most likely to play. It's the court that he has the best memories in," the Greek added. "He has won countless trophies there. He has figured out ways to win where he shouldn't have, let's say, on very few occasions."

"What Rafael Nadal transmits at Roland Garros gives you extra respect" - Carlos Alcaraz

Rafael Nadal hits a forehand at the 2024 Italian Open
Rafael Nadal hits a forehand at the 2024 Italian Open

Carlos Alcaraz also extended his respect to Rafael Nadal while speaking ahead of his French Open campaign earlier this week. The World No. 3 believes that his older countryman has a different aura in Paris.

He also insisted that even in his current state, the former World No. 1 would be a tough player to put away for any player.

"Obviously playing against Rafa is always imposing, no matter where, in what tournament or in what situation, because of the legend he is in our sport," Carlos Alcaraz told Marca. "But it is true that what he transmits when he is at Roland Garros gives you extra respect both to me and to any other player. If I play against him, I would try to take it like any other game."

Nadal will be unseeded at the French Open for the very first time in his career. It will also be the first Major since Australian Open 2005 where the Spaniard is unseeded.

What is the foot injury that has troubled Rafael Nadal over the years? Check here

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