Is Novak Djokovic A Serious Threat to Nadal’s Roland Garros Throne?

Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros

STARNBERG, March 25, 2019

The French Open is up next on the Grand Slam calendar, but can anybody stop Rafael Nadal from claiming his 12th title at Roland Garros?

It remains unlikely, with the Australian Open last month proving the Spaniard was back to his best- despite the defeat in the final against Novak Djokovic. The Serb was able to get the best out of Nadal at the end of January, but the number one was boosted by playing on his favoured surface; something that won’t be the case if they were to meet again in France.

Nadal went into the final at the Australian Open having not dropped a single set, meaning that the critics that were quick to rule the Spaniard out of contention were silenced. This is the same question mark that has been hung over the 32-year-old for years now. However, his record of reaching at least the quarter-finals stage in each of the last six Grand Slams has made the doubt lack substance.

The Australian Open was the first time that Nadal had advanced to the final without dropping a set, while he also only lost two service games on this run; both against James Duckworth in the opening round. Critics were quick to forget these feats when the Spanish player went on to lose his first ever final in straight sets against Djokovic.

While his fitness is still in question, it wasn’t an issue in the first Grand Slam of the year and looks unlikely to be a factor when he returns to his favoured surface.

This is why that Nadal will begin the competition as the heavy favourite to add to his 11 success at Roland Garros. Djokovic would undoubtedly be the player that Nadal would wish to avoid, but one has to think that should the two players meet at a later stage in France while in their best form, there will only be one winner; the King of Clay.

Former French Open Champion Thomas Muster has little doubt that the Spaniard holds the advantage. Speaking to La Gazzetta Dello Sport, he said: “Nadal is the strongest on this surface. There is no doubt about it. Otherwise, you don’t win the French Open so many times, and he did it in last year too, even after all the injuries he suffered. Apart from the amounts of successes in Monte Carlo, Rome, and Barcelona as well, he is really the best out of any era on clay.”

Betting experts at echo the thoughts of Muster and believe that there is no stopping Nadal in his venture to claim the 12th title at Roland Garros. The next three months of the season will be crucial for players at the jostle for positions in the ATP rankings heats up. The momentum gained in France will likely provide great insight into the likely challengers at Wimbledon and the US Open.