Plenty of players finished the 2014 season on the injured list, but none of them was getting as much attention as Rafael Nadal, who’s now targeting a record-breaking tenth title from the French Open, a tournament in which he seems to do well all the time despite the circumstances not always being the best. It rarely matters what condition he’s in before the start of that tournament, everyone just considers him to be the favourite for the title – and, more often than not, that isn’t just wishful thinking.
However, the early months of 2015 seem to be pointing to the circumstances being worse than ever before for the Spaniard, who’s already accumulated a surprisingly high number of awkward performances, with the list including a defeat against Michael Berrer (from a set up!), a loss against Tomas Berdych (which broke Nadal’s record streak of victories against the Czech), and a defeat against Fognini (again from a set up). What’s that supposed to mean? Is that just a run of bad results or are there more struggles on the cards for the legend?
Well, those who saw at least some of his 2015 matches know that there is a difference between his 2013 comeback and this one. Back then, it took a massive performance from Horacio Zeballos to beat him in Vina del Mar and he then went on to win three tournaments in a row before finally losing against Novak Djokovic in Monte Carlo. This time? Well, it certainly didn’t take an once- in-a-lifetime performance from Fognini to beat him from being a set and a break down, which is worrying indeed. And it needs to be emphasized that he hasn’t played against world-class opposition since the end of the Australian Open – once he starts playing against the higher-ranked players that didn’t take part in the Golden Swing, it might not be a pretty sight for his fans.
Perhaps even more importantly, a new crop of players that have a legitimate shot at winning a Grand Slam title seems to have risen up over the last twelve months. As far as the French Open is concerned, this group includes the names of Stanislas Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori, and perhaps even the ever-present Tomas Berdych. Novak Djokovic will be there to make Rafa’s life hard in any case – and so will Roger Federer, who’s still capable of beating Nadal in an one-off match (although the Spaniard will have to cooperate somewhat).
All in all, it seems that completing the La Décima, if you want to call it like that, could be rather tough for Nadal this year, especially if he gets a bad loss or two during the lead-up to the Grand Slam. It seems a given that he will complete the feat at some point, but, as things stand at the moment, Novak Djokovic is to be considered the main favourite for the title. But then again – it is Rafael Nadal who we are talking about.
You will be able to follow the Roland Garros 2015 Here: French Open 2015 Live Streaming