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French Open 2021 : Rafael Nadal reveals his biggest threats at Roland Garros this year

Speaking ahead of the start of the 2021 French Open, 13-time winner and defending champion Rafael Nadal talked about the potential title contenders at the tournament.

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal will return to his favourite hunting ground in Paris as the curtains will be lifted at the Roland Garros 2021 on 30th May, 2021.

The 13-time winner in Paris will be defending his crown and has failed only twice while defending his title. Having an unmatchable record of 100-2 at the French Open, irrespective of the ranking and seeding, Nadal will always be a hot favourite at the French Open.

The 2021 French Open victory will be special for the Spaniard. Apart from being his 14th title, it will also take him to his 21st Grand Slam over-taking his old rival Roger Federer who was the first man to reach the 20 Grand Slam mark, when he won his 6th Australian Open title at the 2018 Australian Open and is yet to win another Grand Slam since.

While many expect Nadal to win again, the ‘King of Clay’ does not believe that it will be a smooth ride this time and there are plenty of other deserving candidates who can over power him and win the title.

Speaking in an interview recently, Rafa identified some of the players who he thinks can prove to be a obstacle between him and his 14th French Open title. “I think there is plenty of players that are doing great.” Nadal later gave a special mention to Casper Ruud saying, “He(Ruud) has had a great clay court season.”

Casper Ruud has been in sensational form on Clay this season. The 22-year old Norwegian upcoming star has reached semi-finals in 4/5 tournaments he has played on Clay this season and has gone a step ahead at the ATP Geneva Open 2021 where he has qualified for the finals.

“Winning in Rome has been a positive thing for me.” says Rafael Nadal ahead of his preparation for the French Open 2021

Rafael Nadal with his French Open 2020 trophy

Rafael Nadal has himself been in great form this year. He has participated in 4 Clay tournaments winning two and reaching the quarter-finals in the remaining two. His two titles include his 12th Barcelona Open title which he followed it up with his 10th Rome Masters within a fortnight.

Nadal however continues to believe about facing a great pool of competitors who can be a hurdle for him. “Dominic Thiem, he’s always a big candidate, (Stefanos) Tsitsipas, (Alexander) Zverev, (Andrey) Rublev, maybe (Denis) Shapovalov. I really believe that there are plenty of players that are doing well. There is a lot of great players that are in good shape.” said Nadal.

Thiem finished runner-up at the 2018 and 2019 French Open losing to Nadal both times. While Zverev and Rublev got better of Nadal in the quarter-finals at the Madrid and Monte Carlo Masters, Stefanos delayed Nadal’s title at Barcelona Open 2021 with the match going past the 3.5 hour mark, one of the longest match of the Clay season so far.

As no tournament is completed without the comparison of ‘The Big 3’, Nadal was asked about the chances of his fellow Big 3 members with Novak Djokovic playing him in the finals of the Rome Masters and Federer making his comeback after a long while.

Nadal stayed away from predicting the result for both of Roger and Novak, and said “And of course, there are the players that we know, like Novak and Roger. So let’s see what can happen.”

“It’s always the same, you need to be there, you need to arrive to Roland-Garros to get used to the conditions, to have the right practice before the tournament starts and then try to be very competitive from the beginning. And just keep going day by day, try to play better and better. And then try to give myself a chance [to win]. replied Nadal on asked about his chances this year.

The French Open 2021 will begin from the 30th May, 2021 with the final set to be played on the 13th June,2021.

Also Read: French Open 2021: Schedule, Live Stream, How and where to watch?