Now at 19 grand slams, Rafael Nadal is now within touching distance of Roger Federer’s 20 and may well feel he can overtake that this year – assuming the Swiss does not add another Wimbledon title to his account. He is second favourite with the bookmakers behind Novak Djokovic but is well placed to take advantage should the Serbian falter at any stage.
After a lengthy grind at ITFs in the middle part of the decade, Dellien has made progress much quicker in the two steps above. He soon proved his worth on the Challenger Tour level and a strong run in Rio last year helped him on his way to solidifying a spot in the top 100. The Bolivian is much more at home on clay and his 6-0 6-1 loss in Auckland to begin the year can only bode badly for him.
Nadal moved to 19 after winning a thriller in New York and he is feeling relaxed ahead of a his opener here. The Spaniard did play the ATP Cup as a warmup, losing two matches for his country who were the eventual runners up. “I am practising I think more or less okay. Just two more days of practice [remain for me],” Nadal said at the weekend. “Let’s try to keep going with the right intensity and with the right feelings. Hopefully I will be ready for Tuesday.”
Nadal looks to be past his period of early struggles at grand slams and Dellien is far from the type of player that has the possibility to scare him at this stage of the tournament. It should only be a matter of how long he remains on court ahead of tougher times in week two. Federico Delbonis or Joao Sousa are unlikely to cause much hassle for him in round two while Pablo Carreno Busta is the most likely opponent in round three.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in straight sets