Rafael Nadal plays his first grand slam as No. 1 in a long time but will have to go deep to ensure he retains that spot, especially with Roger Federer likely awaiting in the semi finals. Nadal begins his tournament against Dusan Lajovic in what should be a fairly comfortable match for him.
Nadal was outstanding in the early part of the year with his performances at the first two slams and the clay setting the ground for his eventual rise back to No. 1. He eventually made it as a result of Andy Murray’s continued form rather than an extended push in Montreal and Cincinnati. He went just 3-2 with losses to Denis Shapovalov and Nick Kyrgios, the latter of whom eventually made the final. “It’s good to be No. 1 of the world again, of course. I think it’s a good achievement after three years having some troubles. So just happy for that.” Nadal said of his rise back to the top of the rankings.
Lajovic is 12-15 on the main tour this year with much of his success coming on the clay aside from a run to the last 16 at Indian Wells. His one meeting with Nadal ended in similar fashion to many that take him on at Roland Garros – a straight sets loss while winning just 4 games.
The early rounds will all be about Nadal and Federer making it through to meet each other in the semi finals, something Nadal is looking forward to. “Meeting him here in semifinals with Roger, if that happens that will be something great and amazing, but as I say before, we made a lot.” he said. Lajovic, like many of his early round opponents, are unlikely to cause much trouble to the Spaniard.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal in straight sets