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Rafael Nadal at 2019 French Open: Preview and Prediction

1.04K   //    25 May 2019, 10:41 IST

Rafael Nadal - King Of Clay
Rafael Nadal - King Of Clay

Eleven-time French Open Champion and the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal has been handed a favourable draw at the 2019 French Open. After a surprisingly lacklustre clay season, Nadal came into his own at the Rome Masters, and won his first title of the year by defeating the world number one, and his closest rival, Novak Djokovic. Here is a look at his side of the draw at Rolland Garros and his likely route to the final.

His first round opponent is the German qualifier Yannik Hanfmann. The twenty-seven year old Hanfmann’s is an inspirational story. Hearing impaired since birth, he has not let that hinder his progress. Known for his big serve, he will try to make Nadal’s life difficult. But in all likelihood, despite the German’s best efforts, it will be an easy day out for the Spaniard.

The second round opponent for Nadal will be another qualifier – either Yannick Maden or Kimmer Coppejans, neither of whom is likely to pose much of a challenge to Nadal. David Goffin could be the third round opponent for Nadal. Once a top ranked player, the injury-plagued Belgian is no more the force he once was in tennis. He is expected to give his best and use all his experience, but at the moment, it does not seem likely that the Belgian could even take a set off Nadal.

Clay court specialist Guido Pella or Nikoloz Basilashvilli could be the fourth round opponent for Nadal. The former especially has been in very good form this year. He posed a stern challenge to Nadal at Monte-Carlo Masters earlier this year. If the two meet again at the French Open, Nadal may face his first major challenge at Paris this time.

The likely quarter final opponent for Nadal is Kei Nishikori. But it could also be the fast-improving Russian Daniil Madvedev. In either case, Nadal will have to be at his best and a slightly off day could derail his campaign, as both of them are more than capable of springing a surprise.

If ranks hold true, then we will have a block-buster semi-final clash between two of the greatest players ever. Roger Federer, on his first clay season after the lengthy break, has looked quite good. If he is at his physical best, he can certainly reach the semis. But to get it past Nadal on his favourite surface and his favourite grand slam, is a herculean task and he may at best threaten to take a set off Nadal!

In the final, Nadal could meet Novak Djokovic. If that indeed happens, it will be well neigh impossible to call. If Nadal had lost to Djokovic at the Rome Masters, then most certainly the Serbian would have been the favourite. But at the moment, it may the King of clay who could still hold on to his crown.

Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win his 12th French Open