regular-article-logo Saturday, 23 September 2023

No.13 but Rafael Nadal’s still one to beat in Paris

Casper Ruud says he will not be shocked to see Nadal lift the trophy once again

Reuters Chico (California) Published 22.03.23, 05:17 AM
Rafael Nadal.

Rafael Nadal. File picture

Rafael Nadal’s absence from Indian Wells has caused him to slip out of the top-10 rankings for the first time since 2005 on Monday, but the Spaniard’s time out might be short.

The 22-time grand slam champion was forced to skip the Masters 1000 event in California, where he reached the final last year, as he continues his recovery from a hip issue that ended his Australian Open title defence. He dropped four places to 13th in the rankings, ending his record 912-week stay inside the top 10, which began when currentNo.1 Carlos Alcaraz was not even two years old.


However, as he prepares to return to action at the Monte-Carlo Masters next month, Nadal will still be the “man to beat” at the French Open if he can get back to full fitness.

The claycourt grand slam— which Nadal has won a record 14 times in his career —starts on May 28, less than a week before his 37th birthday.

World No.4 Casper Ruud, who was on the losing side in the Paris grand slam final last year, said he would not be shocked to see Nadal lift the trophy once again.

“It doesn’t matter if he loses in Monte Carlo or Rome or Madrid. The only thing that’s probably on his mind these days is just to be fit, be healthy and be ready for Roland Garros,” Ruud told Eurosport as part of the Ruud Talk series.

Former US Open champion Dominic Thiem is meanwhile hoping for a “last showdown at Roland Garros” between Nadal and Novak Djokovic — who turns 36 in May and drew level with the Spaniard at 22 singles grand slam titles this January.

“If Rafa is fit there (Roland Garros), it’s exactly the opposite. He’s the man to beat when he won the tournament 14 times, it’s crazy,” Thiem said.

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