Nadal aims for historic 10th French Open title
- Author: Julie Sanders May 28, 2017,
May 28, 2017, 16:39
Rafael Nadal may have won the last of his nine French Open titles in 2014, but after a hard couple of seasons the Spaniard now looks back to his invincible best so will he finally achieve "La Decima" - by winning a historic 10th crown at Roland Garros?
Nadal boasts a sensational career record at Roland Garros with 72 wins and just two defeats, against Djokovic in 2015 and an injury-affected shock loss to Robin Soderling in 2009.
Fourth-seeded Nadal, who won the most recent of his nine titles in 2014, will begin with a testing encounter against Frenchman Benoit Paire.
Serb Djokovic will play his first tournament with new coach Andre Agassi, having appointed the eight-time Grand Slam champion after losing to German 20-year-old Alexander Zverev in the Italian Open final.Djokovic faces Spain's Marcel Granollers in round one.
To become Australia's first French Open champion since Rod Laver in 1969, he will need to win more matches in a fortnight than he's played all year on clay.
Rafael Nadal admitted that he nearly "destroyed" his wrist at Roland Garros previous year, as he relived the pain which forced him to abandon his pursuit of a 10th title at the clay-court Grand Slam.
This season, he has been the dominant player on clay, winning 17 straight matches on his favourite surface and three consecutive titles before Thiem halted his run.
However, with defending champion Novak Djokovic and world No. 1 Andy Murray both struggling for consistency and Australian Open champion Roger Federer sitting it out to focus on Wimbledon, it appears to be a thankless task.
Last year's champion Garbine Muguruza faces a tricky first round against 2010 victor Francesca Schiavone.
Muguruza will begin the tournament against Schiavone, victor of the clay-court grand slam seven years ago, and is in the top half of the draw along with top seed Angelique Kerber. He had failed to win back-to-back matches in Monte Carlo, Madrid or Rome.
"So right now, I feel much better on the court". "If he hasn't had a good Wimbledon - I don't think people need to start panicking but Andy will be a little more concerned because obviously grass is a very natural surface for him and his success rate on that surface is nearly second to none".
"One of the things I felt like I needed is new inspiration, someone that knows exactly what I'm going through, you know, on the court, off the court", said Djokovic.
And all this after the Serb departed Paris last year as the first man in nearly half a century to complete the non-calendar-year grand slam sweep.
The 27-year-old Czech will complete her return to tennis against Julia Boserup.
Djokovic demolished highly-regarded Austrian Thiem for the loss of just one game in the Rome Masters semi-finals last week. I'm very happy with the team I have around me when he isn't there. "And it's a little bit easier for me".
- Three of the last six Roland Garros winners were ranked number one when they won the tournament, unlike any of the previous nine. "I actually already won my biggest fight", Kvitova said.