To dominate one Grand Slam like Rafael Nadal has over the past 10 years is special. 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2014 are the years in which Rafa has won the tournament winning it 9 times in the last 10 years with the only year in that time when he didn’t win it was in 2009 when Roger Federer took the title home. The big question on everyone’s lips is will the Spaniard retain his title for the 6th year running or will someone else’s name be edged onto the trophy?
Since winning Roland Garros last year Nadal as we know has had a couple of injuries and had surgery at the end of the season on his appendix and has struggled for form over the past 11 months or so. Ever since he defeated Novak in the final of Roland Garros last year his form has been like this…
A record of 32 wins and 14 losses in just under a year for Rafa is very disappointing. This year he has lost to Berdych, Fognini and Murray against others but has also over the last year lost to three players ranked outside the top 120 in the world which is unbelievable!
One thing you should never do is write off Nadal especially before Roland Garros. I’m torn between whether I think he will be able to defend his title or not as we know he does produce his best tennis in France. With Nadal currently ranked 7th in the world which is his lowest ranking for 10 years I believe he will be going into Roland Garros seeded at number 6 in the world due to Milos Raonic withdrawing from the tournament.
Watching Rafa’s recent losses to Murray and Wawrinka who outplayed him, so you can’t take anything away from their performances but two things that have been noticeable to me is how far back Rafa is behind the baseline allow Murray and Wawrinka to be aggressive and take control of the match and also the intensity from Rafa especially against Wawrinka when I felt in the second set he just let go and let Stan run the show which he did very well.
If Rafa is going to find his best tennis the likely hood of it is that he could play Djokovic, Murray/Ferrer and Federer if he is going to defend his title. The draw hasn’t been too kind to Nadal and there is a projected quarter final between him and Novak Djokovic.
Nadal’s route to the final will be tough and if he is going to defend his title then he will have to find his best tennis to defend the title. His round two match will be interesting against either Almagro or Dolgopolov in 5 sets however I expect him to defeat either.
Dimitrov in round four could be a tricky one but in my opinion he hasn’t really improved this year. He’s 18/10 this year and for a player wanting to cement a place in the top 10 it isn’t good enough. He’s had two good wins both against Wawrinka this year so could cause problems for Nadal and has had some disappointing losses as well. Even before getting to round four he will face Jack Sock in round one whose playing well and maybe Tommy Robredo in round three.
If Nadal gets to the quarters it will most likely be Djokovic he has to play, Murray or Ferrer in the semi-final and then Wawrinka, Berdych, Nishikori or Federer in the final. You should never write Rafael Nadal off but it won’t be easy!
Will Rafa find his best tennis in France to defend his title?