A 13th title in the sights

A 13th title in the sights

Although beaten by the Argentinian Diego Schwartzman on his favorite surface, in the quarter-finals of the tournament in Rome last week, Rafael Nadal must be considered the big favorite of the French Open which begins on Sunday.

Those who had however wished for a third final in a row opposing Dominic Thiem will have to review their forecast. So decided the drawing of lots.

Registered in the same portion of the table, it is at the latest in the semifinals that they could meet, although the previous rounds can obviously have surprises in store for us.

If the greatest clay court player in the history of tennis covets a 13th title in Paris and a fourth in a row, the task promises to be difficult for him who is also looking for a 20th victory in the final of a tournament major.

This mark would allow him to join Roger Federer who sits at the forefront of all time. The Swiss is recovering from a double knee surgery and does not plan to return to the court until 2021, when he will celebrate his 40th birthday.

Specific context

Nadal's long inactivity, attributable to the pandemic, will she play tricks? Some believe it. Postponed from May to September, the Roland-Garros tournament will take place in a particular environment that could affect the Spaniard.

At least this is the opinion of the director of the competition, Guy Forget, in an interview with a colleague of the site le10sport.com.

“We play later in the season, which would have the effect of modifying the rebound of the ball,” claims this former French player, once the fourth best player in the world. Nadal plays with extremely pronounced effects which will perhaps be less marked this year.

“Then, he will not be able to count on all those who usually travel with him”, continues Forget.

The entourage of each participant is indeed limited in number to reduce the risk of contamination from COVID-19.

“It also seems a detail, adds Forget, but Nadal still claims to occupy the same room in the same hotel, which is impossible for him this year. So there is a lot of speculation around it. ”

In the absence of the “Big Three”

Thiem is one of those young wolves who are only waiting for a weakness or forfeit from the main tenors of the specialty to obtain consecration.

However, the Austrian finally won his first major tournament on September 13 when he triumphed over German Alexander Zverev in five long innings at Flushing Meadows.

It is true that Thiem took advantage of the absence of Nadal and Federer and the disqualification of Serbian Novak Djokovic, to lift the precious trophy. The fourth final, including two at Roland Garros, was the right one for the 27-year-old, third in the world in the ATP standings.

Thiem became the first new winner of a major tournament since Marin Cilic at Flushing Meadows in 2014 and the first winner outside the “Big Three” since the coronation of Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka, also obtained in New York four years ago.

Young wolves on the lookout

If Nadal and Djokovic, recent winner of the tournament in Rome, are logical candidates for victory, other players also have the talent to join this very select group of winners of a major tournament.

Apart from Thiem, they are all under 25. We named Zverez (23), the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas (22), the Russian Daniil Medvedev (24), and, among others, the Canadian Denis Shapovalov (21), who has just reached the top ten of the world ranking of the 'ATP for the first time in his young career.

And could add to this list of young wolves on the lookout, the Italian Matteo Berrettini, the Argentinian Diego Schwartzman, the Russians Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov, as well as Félix Auger-Aliassime.

The Quebecer, despite a difficult course in Rome recently where he was eliminated from the start by the Serbian Filip Krajinovic, is undeniably part of this group of emerging champions. At only 20 years old, he is currently the youngest ranked player (21st rank) among the world's top 73 racquets.

The last 10 champions at Roland-Garros

Year Winner Finalist
2019 Rafael Nadal (ESP) Dominic Thiem (AUT)
2018 Rafael Nadal (ESP) Dominic Thiem (AUT)
2017 Rafael Nadal (ESP) Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI)
2016 Novak Djokovic (SRB) Andy Murray (GBR)
2015 Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) Novak Djokovic (SRB)
2014 Rafael Nadal (ESP) Novak Djokovic (SRB)
2013 Rafael Nadal (ESP) David Ferrer (ESP)
2012 Rafael Nadal (ESP) Novak Djokovic (SRB)
2011 Rafael Nadal (ESP) Roger Federer (SUI)
2010 Rafael Nadal (ESP) Robin Soderling (SWE)

Murray and Wawrinka meet right away

The draw for the French Open tennis offers us a first promising shock: Stanislas Wawrinka and Andy Murray, both winners of Grand Slam tournaments, will face each other from the outset, from Sunday.

The Swiss, seeded number 16, would certainly have liked a less tough opponent for his return to Paris.

As for the Briton, who got a pass from the organizers, he is now ranked 111th in the world after an injury-plagued run in recent years.

These two veterans, aged 35 and 33 respectively, are the only players to have several major titles to their credit during this era dominated by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic who make up the “Big Three” of tennis.

Wawrinka won the Melbourne tournament in 2014, Roland Garros in 2015 and the United States Open in 2016. Murray won the US Open final in 2012, before winning two titles at Wimbledon, in 2013 and 2016.

That 1000 spectators per day on the site

In the space of one month, the number of spectators authorized to access the competition site will have been reduced four times. First set at 20,000 amateurs per day at the start of the month, capacity was reduced to 11,500 and then to 5,000 before being now set at 1,000.

At a time when the rate of contamination is experiencing a further worrying increase in France, the tournament organizers have not obtained any privilege from Public Health.

The Prime Minister of France, Jean Castex, let it be known “that the same rules would be applied at Roland-Garros as elsewhere, that is to say a daily tonnage of 1000 people present on the site. ”

That said, it will be a thousand ticket holders, since duly accredited people, including coaches, officials and a number of journalists, all subject to a specific protocol, are not counted.

Falling stock markets: the fault of COVID-19

Not only has the pandemic postponed the holding of the Paris Tennis Open by four months, it will also have a significant effect on the amount of scholarships awarded to players.

Thus, the two winners, both men and women, will receive a check for 1.6 million euros (or $ 2.4 million Canadian), while last year's winners, Spaniard Rafael Nadal and the Australian Ashleigh Barty, had left Paris richer by 2.3 million euros. That's a decrease of about 30 percent.

The semi-finalists, who were awarded € 1.18 million in 2019, will receive € 850,500 for a 28 percent drop. On the other hand, the organizers improved the purses for the losing players during the first three rounds. Thus, a player eliminated from the outset will receive 60,000 euros (CAN $ 90,000) for an increase of 33 percent.

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