A Sneaky Feeling Nadal Will Lose
Posted on June 05 2018
A few weeks ago we picked the three players we believed would have a chance of lifting the trophy in Paris should Rafael Nadal falter. Well, you will be unsurprised to learn that Nadal has done no such thing, making his way to the last 16 whilst barely breaking a sweat. In the round of 32, the only polite way to put it is that he absolutely battered Richard Gasquet as he raced to a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory. The Spaniard is giving the rest of the draw little cause for optimism with his imperious form, but there is one person at least (this person), that has a tingling suspicion that he might just suffer a shock loss at some point. Two of our three predictions are still alive should that happen, and we take a look at how they’re doing.
Our main reservation with Djokovic was his form, having suffered from injuries of late, we believed Djokovic would need to really work his way in to form as the tournament went on. This appears to have worked out perfectly, as Djokovic came through the first two rounds before facing a big test in 13th seed Bautista Agut in the third round. Make no mistake, this was not an easy game for Djokovic and he did well to come through 6-4, 6-7, 7-6, 6-2. This kind of test was exactly what Djokovic needed, and as expected he continued his improvement as he dispatched another Spaniard in Fernando Verdasco. Djokovic will likely face David Goffin in the quarterfinals before a potential matchup with Thiem or Zverev in the semis.
Thiem has made the semi-finals in Paris the past two years, which puts him firmly on our radar for potential winners should Nadal lose. Thiem is the only man to beat Nadal on clay in the past two years, having done it twice, and now finds himself in the quarterfinals with a matchup against Alexander Zverev. While Thiem hasn’t had the most difficult of routes through to the quarters, it hasn’t been a saunter either. The Austrian dropped a set in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th rounds, but looked impressive in dispatching Nishikori 6-2, 6-0, 5-7, 6-4 in the last 16. Thiem will need to continue this impressive form if he is to progress any further as he faces second seed Zverev. Ultimately, Thiem has proven he can beat anyone on clay, but can he do it when it really counts?
The one man we have lost from our tips. Nishikori showed good form in the early rounds but was eventually outclassed by Thiem. Time and time again, I have fallen into the trap of tipping Nishikori for glory, only for him to fall at the first big hurdle. The Japanese has a great game, and previous Grand Slam final experience, but will he ever be able to repeat that feat? Next time I inevitably pick Nishikori to reach a Grand Slam final feel free to skip on over to the next paragraph.
Something that would help all of our picks to topple Nadal would be to have more time available for practice; after all, there are only so many hours in the day.
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