“His Confidence Might Be Shaken” – Legend Predicts Tough Road for Rafael Nadal at French Open 2021

Published 05/27/2021, 8:23 AM EDT
Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 16, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal in action during his final match against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane


Tennis great Mats Wilander has made a bold prediction on Rafael Nadal ahead of the French Open, saying his undisputed reign at Roland-Garros might be in danger this year.

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Speaking at an event organized by Eurosport, the seven-time Grand Slam champion said there are no guarantees that the ‘King of Clay’  would continue his remarkable run at the French Open this year as the Next-Gen stars are coming ever closer to knocking him and Big 3 peers Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer off perch.

Rafael Nadal could be under pressure if pushed early, says Mats Wilander

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Nadal lifted an unprecedented 13th career title at Roland-Garros last year and will yet again go into the event as the favorite to defend the crown this time as well.

However, the former champion reckoned that if the Spaniard is stretched in the opening round or survives a nervy battle against a young, up-and-coming star, it would deal a huge crack at his self-belief and put him in a crisis of confidence going into future games.

“There is a chance that a younger player can take a chunk out of Nadal’s confidence in the first round and even if he comes through, that could leave him lacking a little belief,” Wilander said.

He added that the Spaniard’s confidence could take a further beating if he’s pushed around or threatened in his next lot of matches, and by the time he reaches the business end of the tournament, it could be anybody’s game.

Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 16, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates with the trophy after winning his final match against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

“He could get bullied around in his next match and if he doesn’t have any easy matches, his confidence might be shaken by the time he gets to the final,” the Swede said.

Nadal has suffered two defeats on clay this year

The Spaniard had the worst possible start on clay this year as he crashed out in the quarter-final of the Monte-Carlo Masters after losing to eventual runner-up Andrey Rublev.

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Having recovered to win his 12th career title in Barcelona, Nadal slipped again on his favorite surface, going down to eventual champion Alexander Zverev in Madrid.

Though he silenced his detractors again with a 10th career title in Rome, Nadal was given a hard time by Miami runner-up Jannik Sinner and current World No.14 Denis Shapovalov.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

968 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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