World No.2 Rafael Nadal crashed out of the Italian Open 2020, after he lost to Argentine Diego Schwartzman in the quarterfinals in straight sets. Nadal had won all their previous nine meetings and lost to Schwartzman for the first time in his career.
As the French Open 2020 begins in two weeks, it will be the first time Nadal will enter the Grand slam winning no clay-court title prior to it. The Spaniard has won at least one clay-court title during all the twelve years he triumphed at Roland Garros.
The Monte Carlo Masters and Madrid Open got suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic this year. As a result, Nadal will go to Paris with little match practice, with his quarter-final appearance just his third match after the Mexican Open.
The 12-time French Open champion will equal his rival Roger Federer’s Grand Slam tally of 20 if he reigns at Roland Garros for the record 13th time. However, the conditions will pose a challenge for Nadal at the French Open this year.
During October, the weather will be slightly cooler along with the chances of rain and wet conditions. However, Nadal traditionally likes to play under warm and sunny conditions to extract more topspin out of the surface. His arch-nemesis, Novak Djokovic, will benefit from the damp conditions, as he will be able to hit the ball early.
In the 2012 French Open final, Nadal found it hard to play after the rain delay in the third set. Djokovic leveraged the wet conditions to win eight games in a row before the match got suspended. Moreover, the newly installed retractable roof might make conditions humid, which will be unfavorable for Nadal.
A comparatively easy draw in the first few rounds will help Nadal find his feet on his beloved surface. In the past, Nadal has always taken time to adapt to the conditions. Hence, a tough opponent in the early rounds might be a trouble for the defending champion.
Last year’s runner-up Dominic Thiem will be an enormous threat to Nadal’s campaign, especially after winning his first Grand Slam at the US Open 2020. Despite the complications, Nadal will still enter the French Open as the favorite.