THE LATEST THINKING
The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.
Rafael Nadal is Going to Win the French Open
Rafa is dominating the clay court circuit right now, and it's looking like that will carry right on through to Roland Garros. Also, I really want him to win the French.
Rafa has won the first two clay court tournaments this year in convincing fashion, and just took Novak Djokovic to the woodshed in a rousing defeat of the Serb in the semifinals of the Mutua Madrid Open. Admittedly, some of this victory should be attributed to Djokovic's out-of-character, lackluster performance — he looked like my grandma out there, rest her soul. Regardless, any time you beat the World #2 (and former-longtime #1) in straight sets (6-2, 6-4), you’re doing something right.
In fact, Rafa’s doing a whole lotta right at the moment. He has the most points on tour this season, and has made it to five of seven finals of the tournaments he’s participated in this year, including an epic (and devastating) five-set loss to Roger Federer at the Australian Open.
It seemed he lost his Tennis God status a few years ago, but since midway through last year, he has been tearing up the World Tour, and he once again looks like the King of Clay.
With the upcoming Internazionali BNL D’Italia — a clay court tournament Nadal has won seven times — Rafa will look to continue his reign of terror, potentially leading him into the French Open with four consecutive tournament wins. Rafa hasn’t won a Grand Slam tournament since he won the French in 2014 — a relatively long time for him as he had won at least one each year for ten years to that point. It’s time for that to change.
First things first, though, Rafa has to beat Thiem or Cuevas in the Madrid Final on Sunday to keep the streak alive. Of course, he’s 3-1 against both players respectively in his career, so that seems likely.
No matter what happens, Nadal’s got his grove back, and the odds that anyone manages to take three sets against him in Paris are not great. I look forward to shedding an irrational tear as Rafa hoists the trophy at Roland Garros for the 10th time.
Lleyton Hewitt is backing Nick Kyrgios as a French Open dark horse capable of causing serious carnage at Roland Garros.