Former world number one Rafa Nadal is bidding for his 10th French Open success at Roland Garros this year as the ‘King of Clay’ looks to add to his Grand Slam tally of 14.
Nadal has struggled with injuries over the last two years since his last Grand Slam success in Paris, however, his recent tournament win in the Monte Carlo Masters on clay suggests the Spaniard is one of the key contenders for the second Grand Slam of the year in the French Open.
Despite having never won the French Open, Novak Djokovic is at odds of 4-6 to come out on top at Roland Garros this year. Nadal can be backed at the latest French Open odds of 3-1, while British number one Andy Murray is available at 9-1.
Nadal was much bigger to lift the trophy in Paris before his victory in Monte Carlo. In the quarter-final of the tournament, he beat 2015 French Open winner Stan Wawrinka 6-1 6-4. The world number five was then fully tested against Murray where he needed three sets to dispatch the Brit, while in the final he was able to beat Frenchman Gael Monfils 7-5 5-7 6-0.
There is no man in the history of the game who has won more French Open titles than Nadal. He made his debut in the tournament in 2005 in which he beat Mariano Puerta in the final. Three successful defences of his title followed in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
One of the biggest shocks in recent tennis history came in the 2009 competition when Sweden’s Robin Soderling stopped the Spaniard’s winning run in the clay court Grand Slam tournament. His defeat in the fourth round was his first loss of his career at the event.
Nadal bounced straight back in 2010 as he gained revenge on Soderling with a straights set victory in the final. That was the first of five consecutive titles through to 2014. Twelve months ago the 29-year-old exited the competition in the quarter-final as he drew Djokovic in a last four encounter, losing in four sets to the Serbian.
The man who is most likely to stand in Nadal’s way in Paris this year is Djokovic again. The world number one has yet to win the French Open. It is the final major tournament the Serbian needs to complete the Career Grand Slam.
Djokovic won three Grand Slams in 2015. He started the season with the success in the Australia Open in Melbourne. A victory at Wimbledon followed later in the year, while he also ruled supreme in New York in the US Open.
The year of 2016 has already started well for the world number one. He beat Murray 6-1 7-5 7-6 (7-3) in Melbourne for his sixth Australian Open title. With Roger Federer returning from back surgery, Wawrinka out of form and Murray unlikely to succeed on his least favourite surface, the French Open this year could be a two horse race between the King of Clay, Nadal, and the world number one, Djokovic.