French Open 2021 Preview

All eyes turn to the 2021 French Open at the end of May, after the French public authorities threw a spanner in the works deciding to postpone the 2021 Roland-Garros tournament by one week, which will now be held from 24 May to 13 June.

With an extra week to play with many tour players have planned their tennis calendar around the competition in Paris, avoiding competitions in the interim. Rafa Nadal is coming off a pulsating Barcelona Open title win, after dispatching a resilient Stefanos Tsitsipas saving a match point in a thrilling three-set victory.

Nadal, the undoubted “King of Clay” will turn 35 during this year’s French Open and is equal on Grand Slams as counterpart Rodger Federer. The build-up to the tournament has mainly been focused around Rodger Federer’s return and the veteran’s chances against a man that is acclaimed to be the best player ever to play on the red dirt.

French Open 2021 Preview

 

With Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem occupying the three fixed odds favourite spots, it is hard to envision another Men’s Singles challenger. Iga Swiatek, Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza are the top three women’s favourites with Serena Williams being priced at 14/1 to claim a 24th Grand Slam.

Men’s French Open

It’s common knowledge that Nadal is a clay court demon, with 13 French Open Grand Slams to his name. Nadal won the competition last year without dropping a single set, the Spaniard is the epitome of consistent on clay.

But the French Open journeyman is not without challengers, Novak Djokovic will, as always, be lurking in the background having made the final for the fifth time at Roland Garros last year. Djokovic drew first Grand Slam blood this year, beating Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open to start his 2021 off with a bang.

Dominic Thiem has broken into the top five of late, as the Austrian rallied to capture a maiden US Grand Slam last year. Many believe the 27-year-old to achieve great things, and undoubtedly the French Open is his best chance. The red dirt is the perfect conditions suited for Thiem, and his results at Roland Garros proved that.

French Open 2021 Preview

Daniil Medvedev has managed to carve out a path to a top-three ranking through his consistent and unforgiving play style. The Russian’s form at Roland Garros does not reflect his third-seeded spot, in four appearances he has been knocked out in the first round every time. Stefanos Tsitsipas is another who could pose problems, he enters the tournament after a number two place finish against Rafa Nadal at the Barcelona Open and has also made the final four at the French Open last year.

The French Open delay has also enticed the great Rodger Federer to test out his strings at the Geneva Open from 16-22 May prior to the French Open.

Many believe Rodger Federer’s long-awaited Grand Slam return on his least favourite surface is a part of a plan to peak in time for his beloved Wimbledon. Federer has not competed on clay for the last four years and will be looking to shed the rust of his racket in Geneva.

Women’s French Open

The women’s competition is slightly more open, with the bookies finding it hard to separate the top 15 players. Iga Swiatek last year came from obscurity to become the youngest player since Monica Seles to win the tournament.

Included in the competition is the mighty Simona Halep, a three-time finalist and one-time winner at the French Open. Halep’s durable play style and elite court coverage make her a constant threat on the red dirt.

Further down the list is Australia’s Ashleigh Barty, who is always knocking on the door for another Grand Slam and she also currently occupies the world number one spot. Barty, a former French Open winner, has missed a number of Grand Slams, including this one last year.

One woman who has reached the upper echelons of the sport is that of Naomi Osaka. At just the young age of 23, Osaka has four Grand Slams attached to her résumé and seems to be destined to win a plethora of titles in the near future. The American, has, however, struggles on clay in her last four appearances at Roland Garros and has been knocked out in the first round twice.

There are a host of other chances in what seems to be an unpredictable Women’s French Open tournament. Serena Williams is on the cusp of her 40th birthday but her age doesn’t seem to matter to her, making it to the semi-finals of her last two Grand Slams and as a three-time winner her she’ll be expected to go into the later rounds.

Both the men and the women’s French Open could hardly look different. Nadal will be the man to conquer while the women’s draw is a difficult affair to predict. Despite the various differences, however, the tournament is shaping up to be an intriguing competition with some of the best tennis in the world on show.

Breaking Down the Numbers Between Tennis’ Big Three

The debate rumbles on about who is the greatest men’s singles player of all time in tennis. Three of the leading players in that discussion are still playing today: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

By the time those players retire from the sport, their numbers may be enough for them to stand out as the best in the men’s game to ever pick up a racquet. Here is a look at who is currently leading the way out of those trio of stars in the respective tallies.

Grand Slam Wins

This is the one that is the most important. The four Grand Slam events are the ones which tennis players focus on much more. When a player retires from tennis, their career is defined by how many Grand Slam titles they won.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are currently locked on 20 wins each. Nadal joined his great rival at the top of the tally when he claimed the 2020 French Open, his 13th success in the tournament at Roland-Garros.

Djokovic is two behind Federer and Nadal on 18 Grand Slam wins. The world number one is the most dominant player in the sport at the moment though, and at the age of just 33, he will fancy winning more than 20 before he ends his career.

The next opportunity for the three all-time greats to win a Grand Slam will come at the French Open in June. The King of Clay, Nadal, is the odds-on favourite at 5/6 in the tennis betting in Paris. A 14th win in the tournament could prove a big step towards separating himself from his two rivals.

World Number One Spot

Current number one Djokovic has held the top spot in the ATP rankings for the most time in history. The Serbian has been there for 317 weeks and that number should extend this year as he has some distance between himself and the pack in the list.

Federer has had the number one position for 300 weeks. He is now down to number eight in the current rankings and at the age of 39, it is hard to see the Swiss legend climbing back to the top again.

Nadal has been world number one for the least amount of time out of the three players. He has been there for 209 weeks. Injuries have hampered the Spaniard at various stages of his career, otherwise that number would most likely have been much bigger.

Olympic Gold

The other big event outside of the four Grand Slams in tennis is the Olympic Games. Tokyo is the chance of all the leading men’s and women’s players to experience stepping up on the podium receiving the gold medal.

Nadal is the only one of the trio of legends who has won singles gold in the Olympics. He achieved that feat in 2008 in Beijing, beating Fernando Gonzalez in the final. Federer does have a gold medal following doubles success. He partnered Stan Wawrinka in 2008 to victory in the event.

Federer and Djokovic will be desperate to prevail in the singles tournament in 2021. It will be played on a hard court at the Ariake Coliseum.

Although tennis fans may continue to have their own opinion around who is the best ever in the men’s game, there is no doubt we are unlikely to see an era like this one again any time soon.

Rafael Nadal – The King of Clay and Greatest Player in French Open History

Rafael Nadal - The King of Clay and Greatest Player in French Open History

Rafael Nadal” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by y.caradec

Rafael Nadal turns 35 during the 2021 French Open. It will be the 17th time in his illustrious career that he has graced the clay courts of Roland Garros.

Performing in Paris is something the Spaniard has done year in, year out with alarming regularity. In fact, across his 16 consecutive French Open appearances, Nadal has lost just two matches in the Grand Slam tournament.

His moniker, the King of Clay, is something that he has well and truly earned by breaking all records. Most tennis players would call 13 Slams a fabulous career, but they are just Nadal’s Roland Garros wins alone.

The only blemishes, if you can call them that, on his magnificent French Open record were losses to Robin Söderling in four sets back in 2009 and Novak Djokovic in the 2015 quarter-finals. Other than that, Nadal has been untouchable in the City of Light.

Maybe there’s something in the water, but for some reason he has shone brightest of all in Paris. Nadal’s is the perfect game for clay court competition, and so it has proved time and time again.

This is why the tennis betting on the French Open men’s singles this year has him a hot 6/5 favourite with only long-time rival Djokovic and Austrian player Dominic Thiem thought capable of an upset.

Nadal is a master at work. Just as sculptors mould from clay, he reigns supreme on this surface. When he finally retires, he will go down as the greatest at Roland Garros ever. Even before 1925 when the French Open was anything but, and only French club members could play, no man or woman can boast anything like the singles success Nadal has enjoyed here. What makes his incredible achievements even more remarkable is the company he has been keeping for most of his career.

Nobody else has got much of a look-in at Roland Garros with Nadal on the scene but, elsewhere and at other Slams, he has been part of a golden era for tennis. Swiss superstar Roger Federer and Djokovic are both contemporaries.

Along with Sir Andy Murray, this Big Four have dominated tennis since the mid-2000s. Nadal’s place among the pantheon of greats is assured, then, but he will always be synonymous with the French Open.

He has completed the career Grand Slam with success at the Australian Open in Melbourne, reigning on the grass courts of Wimbledon twice in the past, and four US Open victories at Flushing Meadows between 2010 and 2019. Nadal has won two or more tennis majors in the same year five times.

There is no need or desire on his part to get away from his association with clay. History will remember Nadal as a force of nature, best of his generation from a nation that has its fair share of memorable tennis pros.

Perhaps the scariest thing about Nadal is that he’s not done yet. There is still time to extend his French Open record, and he probably will.

Longest Tennis Match in History 2010

Longest Tennis Match in History 2010 Until 2010, the record for longest match in professional tennis history was a first round match between Frenchmen Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clément at the French Open in 2004; Santoro eventually won 4-6, 3-6, 7-6, 6-3, 16-14 after six hours and 33 minutes. However, that record was beaten, hands down, by another first round match, between American John Isner and Frenchman Nicolas Mahuf at the Wimbledon Championships in 2010.

Played over three days on Court 18, the match lasted eleven hours and five minutes in total, with Isner eventually winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68, making it the longest match both in terms of elapsed time and games played. In fact, the final set alone lasted eight hours and eleven minutes or, in other words, one hour and 38 minutes longer than the Santoro/Clément match. On the third day, played resumed in the fifth set at 59-59, to the amusement of the umpire and spectators, and continued until Isner broke serve in the 138th game to complete a remarkable victory. Both players were presented with crystal glasses and a commemorative plaque was erected courtside to mark their achievement.

In 2018, Isner was also involved in the second longest match in professional history, again at the Wimbledon Championships, where he eventually lost 6-7. 7-6, 7-6, 4-6, 24-26 to South African Kevin Anderson in a men’s singles sem-final lasting six hours and 35 minutes. The following October, the All England Lawn Tennis Club announced that, from 2019, tie-breaks would be played at 12-12 in the final set to prevent such marathon matches.

Watch Highlights of the Longest Tennis Match in History