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regular-article-logo Monday, 22 July 2024

Lack of favourite makes it exciting, opens up the competition: Sania Mirza on French Open

Asked who may win the title this time, she said: 'I really cannot answer that. Of course you cannot discount either Nadal or Novak. The next gen too is raring to go. You have (Carlos) Alcaraz, you have (Jannik) Sinner. There are Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Casper Ruud'

Elora Sen Calcutta Published 23.05.24, 11:53 AM
Sania Mirza

Sania Mirza File picture

Rafael Nadal may not rule at Roland Garros like he has done for years this time around, but the French Open may just be that bit more exciting feels Sania Mirza.

“When Rafa walks in at Roland Garros, it is a completely different aura that surrounds him. It has been like that for years now. This time, however, we can’t automatically say he is the favourite.

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“That in itself is unnatural at the French Open. But it also opens up the competition,” Sania said during a virtual interaction on Wednesday.

“I really can’t say who will be the favourite to win the men’s crown this time. We are all so used to seeing Nadal dominate here. Over the past three-four years we are seeing the new generation making a mark. But for them to actually replace the Big Three or have the same influence that Roger (Federer), Nadal or Novak (Djokovic) had — that would be very hard. They are unbelievable athletes and that void will be very difficult to fill.”

Asked who may win the title this time, she said: “I really cannot answer that. Of course you cannot discount either Nadal or Novak. The next gen too is raring to go. You have (Carlos) Alcaraz, you have (Jannik) Sinner. There are Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Casper Ruud.

“They have been under the wings of the Big Three, but now they know it is their time to break through.

“Having said that, there are injuries too. So after a long time we are in a scenario where it is difficult to pick the favourite in men’s tennis. And I think that makes it a lot more competitive and exciting.”

Nagal’s opportunity

India’s Sumit Nagal secured his place in the main draw of the men’s singles thanks to his career-high world ranking of 80. Asked if he will be under pressure, Sania said: “I don’t think so. He should see this as a great opportunity. This will help him get experience and clay is his best surface, unlike most of us Indians. It is really good to see one of us in the singles main draw of a grand slam.”

The French Open will be telecast live from May 26 on Sony Sports Network.

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