French Open 2021 – Rafael Nadal is the Clear Favorite

AP/Gregorio Borgia, file

French Open 2021 – Rafael Nadal is the Clear Favorite

Rafael Nadal is now the clear favorite. Much like he has done in the previous 15 years, he has pretty much owned the clay-court swing before the French Open. He took both the Barcelona and Rome titles in typical Nadal fashion, showing his usual grit and intensity. Sure, he only made it to the quarterfinals of both the Monte Carlo Masters and the Madrid Masters, however, he lost to two world-class players in Rublev and Zverev. Fortunately for Nadal, he was able to get quick revenge on Zverev in Italy, quickly dispatching him in two quick sets.

Now that his preparation is done, Nadal can look forward to the 2021 French Open knowing that he is playing world-class tennis on clay. He will be hard to beat in a best of five matches at the French Open. Here’s a closer look at his European clay-court run.

Nadal started in Monte Carlo, where he annihilated #14 seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-1, 6-1 in the round of 16 before running into a hot Rublev in the quarters. Rublev would beat Nadal in three tough sets, finishing him off 6-2 in the third. Going out in the quarters of Monte Carlo is not something Nadal is used to. Lucky for Nadal that Barcelona was right around the corner.

In true Nadal fashion, he mostly cruised to the final in Barcelona, playing some decent tennis. However, it was in the final against Tsitsipas that he was able to pick up his game when it mattered. Tsitsipas was coming off a stunning victory in Monte Carlo and had been one of the most in-form players. Nadal saved a championship point on his way to his 12th Barcelona title.

Next up was Madrid, where Nadal usually struggles due to the altitude and faster clay courts. This year he would struggle to find his form in the Spanish capital, losing to #5 seed Zverev in the quarters. Credit to Zverev for playing a solid match against the King of Clay.

Nadal’s clay-court swing would end at the Italian Open, where his form would peak in stunning fashion – as usual. At the Italian Open, he would post his most impressive victories. First, he took out Sinner in his first match, followed by Shapovalov in the round of 16, Zverev in the quarterfinals, a tricky Opelka in the semifinal, and finally Novak Djokovic in the final. That’s a heck of a lot of quality players Nadal took out to win his 10th Italian Open. Nadal continues to impress and will be the heavy favorite to capture his 14th French Open title.

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