How Can Novak Djokovic and Others Stop Rafael Nadal at the French Open 2021?

Published 06/09/2021, 1:29 AM EDT
Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 16, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal shakes hands with Serbia’s Novak Djokovic after winning the final REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal has built yet another flawless campaign at the French Open 2021. Never having lost a set since 2019, the Spaniard has now entered the last eight in Paris for the 15th time.


Article continues below this ad

But while Nadal has the best chances to win, some aspects of the game might keep him from winning. However, the margin of the possibility of him losing at Roland-Garros is still considerably low.

Without further ado, find out where Nadal has fallen short against his opponents. Also, take a look at the stats of his most prominent threat, Serbian World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, to understand the situation better.


Article continues below this ad

Watch this story: Toughest Moments Of ‘King of Clay’ Rafael Nadal at French Open

Factors that call Rafael Nadal’s French Open title defense into question

First and foremost, the Spaniard has not been as dominating as usual on the big points of a match. So far, Nadal has 55.6% (10-18) of break points saved and 49.1% (26-53) converted.

Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 5, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal in action during his third round match against Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Comparatively, Djokovic has rescued a substantial 84.2% (16-19) breakpoints and converted 67.6% (25-37) times. Hence, the 35-year-old Mallorcan might want to see through the crucial moments in his next few matches.

Another staggering factor that puts Nadal behind Djokovic is his service game. Admittedly, the Spaniard’s serve has bothered him since the start of the clay season and has had its ups and downs.

Until the QFs, Nadal has delivered 17 aces and equal doubles faults on the Parisian clay. On the other hand, Djokovic has hit 30 aces and 10 double faults.

Moreover, Nadal hasn’t hit as many winners as Djokovic, and he has made more unforced errors than the Serb. Unquestionably, the 35-year-old would want to change that in the latter stages of the tournament.

Above all, Nadal also hasn’t faced a competitive match in the French Open 2021. While all credits go to the genius of his game on clay, his next few opponents might not go down quietly.

Also, all of Rafa’s challengers are more eager than ever to take the Spaniard down at Roland-Garros. Thus, Nadal’s hunger for his 21st Grand Slam title would also be tested to the fullest.

Who will Rafael Nadal play in the Roland-Garros 2021 QFs?

Nadal will meet his last year’s semifinal’s opponent Diego Schwartzman in the quarterfinals. Notably, the Argentine has the experience of defeating the Spaniard on clay before. Hence, he will give his all on the court to stop Nadal at Roland-Garros.

Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 5, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal reacts during his third round match against Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

If the Mallorcan passes the Argentine safely, he will meet either Matteo Berrettini or Novak Djokovic in the SFs. The Serb is the only player in the current draw to have beaten Nadal at Roland-Garros before.


Article continues below this ad

Ultimately, the Spaniard could face Stefanos Tsitsipas or Alexander Zverev in the final. Both have enough weapons and the drive to take on the Spaniard challenge on the revered clay court.

Conclusively, things might take a turn for Nadal from this part of the tournament. However, his calibre to cross every hurdle has stunned the world many times in the past.


Article continues below this ad

Will Nadal go on to win his 14th French Open title?



Purav Joshi

1136 articles

Purav Joshi is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having a degree in Films, Television and Media Production, he guided his passion for writing and journalism into the sport of aces and rallies. With over 2 years of experience as a copywriter, Purav has authored over 500 tennis articles.