Defending champion Rafael Nadal will begin his 2014 French Open campaign with a lopsided meeting against America’s Robby Ginepri, whom he had previously defeated back in 2005. This marks the second time these two competitors will cross paths on the professional tour and the first time in nine years.
It has been a turbulent season for Rafael Nadal. The top seed began the season with two titles but failed to capture the Australian Open title in January. He would then face a tough streak in March, where he lost at Indian Wells (3rd round) Miami (final) and Monte Carlo (quarter-final). He would then lose once again in Barcelona, before salvaging a lucky win in Madrid when Kei Nishikori retired with a hip injury in the final.
In Rome, Rafa defeated the likes of budding Bulgarian talent Grigor Dimitrov and British No. 1 Andy Murray en route to the final, but was unable to defeat his Serbian adversary Nole Djokovic, even though he had fought back to 3-3 in the decider.
“During the clay court season, I got a little bit better week by week,” Nadal told media at Roland Garros on Friday. “Last week in Rome, it was tough physically. I played a lot of time, but in the end sometimes you need these things. “I think I played a little bit better during the whole tournament, and especially after the first two rounds. I think it was a positive step for me, and I’m happy with the way that I finished in Madrid and Rome. I’m not that happy about what I did in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, but that’s sport.”
While Nadal’s ninth French Open title campaign will begin with Robby Ginepri, he could potentially face No. 21 Nicolas Almagro in the fourth round, No. 5 David Ferrer in the quarterfinals, and No. 2 Novak Djokovic in the finals. All three of those competitors have defeated Nadal this season on clay. It is a far tougher draw than the one he was dealt at the Australian Open.
- Nadal is 59-1 on Paris courts
- Nadal is after his 14th Grand Slam title and his 9th French Open crown.
This marks the second time these two meet on the professional tour, but is also the first time in over nine years. Rafa won their first meeting in 2005 and will be a heavy favourite to win this encounter in straight sets.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal in Straight Sets