Quantcast
Latest Stories

Nadal favored, but not seeded No. 1 at French Open



Roger Federer of Switzerland loses his tennis racket during the final match against Spain’s Rafael Nadal, at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome, Sunday, May 19, 2013. Nadal won 6-1, 6-3. AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

PARIS  — Used to be the French Open was the scene for clay-court specialists and surprise champions.

Scan the list of past winners and runners-up. There’s Gaston Gaudio and Albert Costa, Guillermo Coria and Martin Verkerk, Andres Gomez and Mariano Puerta. Not so much a “Who’s Who.” More like a “Who’s He?”

The women’s list features fewer out-of-nowhere names, yet does include those such as Iva Majoli, Anastasia Myskina and Francesca Schiavone, who all won the French Open while never making it past the quarterfinals at any other major championship.

With the year’s second Grand Slam tournament set to begin Sunday at Roland Garros, there is little thought being given to that sort of stunning outcome, thanks to Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams.

As seven-time major champion John McEnroe put it: “It’s pretty obvious who the favorite is.”

He meant, of course, Nadal, who won his record seventh French Open title last year and is 52-1 for his career at the place. Consider, too, the nearly perfect way the Spaniard has played after seven months off the tour because of a left knee injury: Since returning in February, Nadal is 36-2, reaching the finals at all eight tournaments he’s entered, winning six.

“I am enjoying every moment, and eight finals in a row is wonderful,” Nadal said. “Four, five months ago, it was impossible to think about this.”

He wore a wrap of white tape below that troublesome knee while practicing Thursday afternoon on Court Philippe Chatrier with the temperature in the 40s (below 10 degrees Celsius) for about an hour before heavy rain fell; the forecast is for more wet weather in the coming days.

Nadal has cut down on the amount of time he spends training on court, one concession to recurring knee problems, which also forced him to pull out of Wimbledon in 2009, when he would have been the defending champion.

“I’m really happy for him, and impressed that he’s come back,” said McEnroe, now a TV analyst. “It seems like he’s barely lost anything, if at all. Right now, he seems to be finally, he says, playing the best he’s been playing the whole year, which is sort of frightening for the other players.”

And yet Nadal will not be seeded No. 1 when the draw is held Friday.

That’s because the French Open decided to strictly follow the rankings, and Nadal’s time away deducted enough points that he is currently No. 4 (he’ll move up one spot to No. 3 in the seedings, because No. 2 Andy Murray, the reigning U.S. Open champion, withdrew because of a bad back.

Tournament director Gilbert Ysern explained that while he could have opted to ignore the rankings — and even contemplated doing so, because Nadal is “the best player on clay” and Roland Garros “is a bit like his garden” — there wasn’t a consensus it was the proper thing to do.

“You can understand the argument that those who are higher than him in the rankings in a certain way deserve their ranking,” Ysern said, “and to move these players back to move Nadal forward could have been considered unfair.”

Nadal, for his part, did not sound too fussed about the matter, saying, “I had a very good chance to be No. 10 (given the time off), and there are lots of chances to be worse, and I accept the situation.”

So last year’s French Open runner-up to Nadal, Novak Djokovic, will be seeded No. 1, and 17-time major champion Roger Federer will be seeded No. 2.

Djokovic handed Nadal one of his two losses of 2013, in the Monte Carlo final on clay last month, proof that Nadal is not completely invincible, even on the slow surface he dominates.

The No. 1-ranked Williams, meanwhile, has been unbeatable lately. She arrives in Paris having won a career-high 24 consecutive matches and is 36-2 — like Nadal — with a tour-leading five titles this season. That’s part of a stretch in which she’s gone 67-3, including titles last year at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the London Olympics.

That 70-match stretch of excellence dates, probably not coincidentally, to her last match at Roland Garros, a shocking loss to 111th-ranked Virginie Razzano of France in the first round in 2012. It is her only opening loss in 50 career Grand Slam tournaments — precisely the sort of thing that seems to happen around these parts.

While there certainly are other women who realistically can harbor hopes of lifting the trophy in a little more than two weeks — defending champion Maria Sharapova is the best example — Williams appears to be playing as well as ever at the moment.

She already owns 15 Grand Slam singles titles, but the French Open is the only major tournament she’s won fewer than four times. Her lone championship in Paris came in 2002.

“Nothing is ever perfect and I learned that last year when I felt perfect,” Williams said. “So I am still in a danger zone.”


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.


Tags: Albert Costa , French Open , Gaston Gaudio , Grand Slam , Rafael Nadal , Roland Garros , Tennis



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement

News

  • Malang the croc must regain strength before return to swamp, says mayor
  • Palace: Lacson’s version of Napoles testimony to be evaluated
  • Scientists eye iceberg bigger than Guam
  • Drilon: I’m not on Napoles’ list
  • Sonar finds 1888 San Francisco shipwreck
  • Sports

  • Promoters Dela Hoya, Arum in talks for Pacquiao-Alvarez—report
  • Benzema guides Madrid to 1-0 win over Bayern
  • Suns’ Goran Dragic win NBA’s Most Improved Player award
  • Heat go up 2-0, hold off Bobcats 101-97
  • Ronaldo shakes off injury fears to play Bayern
  • Lifestyle

  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Cost-recovery provisions for affected gencos urged
  • Technology

  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme
  • Embassy advisory: Filipinos still need visas to enter US
  • No travel restriction to Mideast, DFA clarifies
  • PH-HK relations repaired, but families of victims still being courted
  • Marketplace