The Spaniard has enjoyed an impressive 2022 season, winning 23 out of 26 matches. Rafael Nadal started by winning the Melbourne Summer Set without dropping a single set. After this, he won a record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, beating Daniil Medvedev in the final. This was followed by mesmerising performances in the Mexican Open and the Indian Wells Masters. However, he suffered a rib stress fracture in the Indian Wells Masters finals and was sidelined for over a month. Nevertheless, the Spaniard made a comeback in the Italian Open 2022 where he again got injured, jeopardising his chances of making it further to the competition.
Nadal, however, is known as the “King of Clay” and has won Roland Garros an incredible 13 times. He will return to Roland Garros with a relatively affordable path to the quarterfinals. It’s unclear how he’ll feel after recovering from his injury, but until he meets Djokovic in the quarterfinals, Wawrinka’s lone stumbling barrier appears in a hypothetical second round. If he defeats Djokovic, he will go to the semifinals against the winner of the Zverev-Alcaraz match. Given his great performance throughout 2022, the Murcian’s path is also acceptable until the aforementioned crash.
A Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic clash awaits in the quarter-final
Nadal will begin his quest for a record-tying 14th French Open title against Australian Jordan Thompson. The 28-year-old reached the third round of the tournament last year, but he’ll be a long shot to shock the Spaniard and keep him from facing big names later in the tournament. Rafael Nadal will face either his long-time rival Stanislas Wawrinka or the Frenchman Corentin Moutet in the second round. Given Wawrinka’s recent form and Moutet’s lack of red-dirt expertise, the Spaniard will comfortably dispatch these two to set up a third-round meeting with either Fabio Fognini or Van De Zandschulp. Thereafter, if the 21-times Grand Slam winner proceeds into the fourth round, he will meet either Felix Auger-Aliassime or Reily Opelka there.
The possibility of a Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal quarter-final at Roland Garros, which is forecast as the draw takes shape, has tennis fans salivating. The two are also on the same side of the draw as Carlos Alcaraz, which might result in a thrilling semi-final clash. The Spaniard defeated Djokovic in the 2020 Roland-Garros finals to win his 13th French Open title, but the tables turned when Djokovic knocked him out of the 2021 French Open, jeopardising his prospects of collecting his 21st Grand Slam trophy. However, it will be fascinating to witness the two battle it out in the red dirt once again.
In the semi-finals, there might be a showdown between two Spaniards vying for the trophy. Carlos Alcaraz, 19, is attempting to become only the eighth youngster to win a Grand Slam men’s title, and he is the second favourite to win. However, in order to accomplish so, he will have to conquer the Mallorcan, which will not be easy. If everything goes accordingly, Rafael Nadal will meet Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final showdown. It will be a thrilling battle to watch as Tsitsipas, who is incredibly good at clay, will be looking forward to winning his first Grand Slam and the Spaniard will definitely try his best to stop the Greek and claim his 14th record French Open title. But, if the Greek fails to make it to the finals, Nadal will either meet Daniil Medvedev or Casper Ruud.
Rafael Nadal’s potential path to his 14th French Open title
- Round 1- Jordan Thompson
- Round 2- Stanislas Wawrinka/Corentin Moutet
- Round 3- Fabio Fognini/Van De Zandschulp
- Round 4- Felix Auger-Aliassime/Reily Opelka
- Quarter-finals- Novak Djokovic
- Semi-finals- Carlos Alcaraz/Alexander Zverev
- Final- Stefanos Tsitsipas/Daniil Medvedev/Casper Ruud