The third Major of the season starts in Paris on Sunday, and it should be the unique Roland Garros! Staged four months after its usual place in the calendar, the clay-court Major welcomes players in cold and rainy weather, with new Wilson balls.
The top players shouldn’t worry about rain, competing at the brand-new Court Philipp-Chatrier under the roof, although everything else should be challenging for all of them. We should expect many exciting results, and the question is, will the 12-time champion Rafael Nadal extend his reign in Paris, winning 93 out of 95 matches in Paris.
After his first practice runs in Paris, Nadal wasn’t happy about the weather and balls, saying it will be tough to find the rhythm. Nadal’s main rivals should be Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem, the winners of the previous two Majors of the season and those who know how to challenge Rafa on clay.
Mats Wilander believes the conditions should work in Djokovic’s favor, almost beating Rafa on a rainy day in the 2012 final and possessing more dangerous strokes than the Spaniard under these circumstances. Novak’s only Roland Garros crown came in 2016, beating Andy Murray in the final to complete a Career Grand Slam.
Novak has been the player to beat this season, winning 31 out of 32 matches and suffering that lone loss at the US Open when he got defaulted. Djokovic made a perfect start of the season at the ATP Cup, beating Nadal in the final to claim the title for Serbia and reduce the deficit to world no.
1 ahead of the Australian Open. In Melbourne, Djokovic prevailed against Dominic Thiem in the title match, lifting the eighth Australian Open trophy and taking the ATP throne from Rafa, who lost to Thiem in the quarters.
Mats Wilander believes Novak Djokovic should beat Rafael Nadal in Paris.
Djokovic won the title in Dubai before the coronavirus outbreak, spending the next couple of months in Marbella and Belgrade and not adding weeks to his no.
1 tally since March 16. Novak was ready for the restart of the season in New York, conquering Cincinnati Masters 1000 title and heading to the US Open as the favorite. As we all know, Djokovic had to end his run in the fourth round against Pablo Carreno Busta, hitting a lines judge with a ball and having to leave the tournament earlier than he expected.
Heading back to Europe, Novak claimed the 36th Masters 1000 crown in Rome, returning to the winning course and hoping for more of the same in Paris. “It’s a huge, huge difference for Rafael Nadal. It’s a massive challenge for him, and he’s going to be praying for Indian summer.
For Novak Djokovic, I think it’s perfect. Novak nearly beat Rafa during the rainy 2012 final. I think the hard-court players will perform better because it’s not as slippery when it’s a little wetter and colder, the balls don’t spin as much,” Mats Wilander said.