Rolland Garros Week 1: Can anyone stop Rafa?


The 16-time grand slam champion has won an unprecedented 10 French Open titles and is odds-on favorite to win an 11th. The Spaniard won the French Open on his debut as a 19-year-old and came into this year’s event with a 79-2 win-loss record at Roland Garros.

The first week of the French Open is out of the way, with the men’s side of the draw throwing up some surprises. However, amid all the ups and downs being faced by 127 players, the 128th (and best) of them, Rafael Nadal, continues to blaze his trail of destruction. His dismantling of home favorite Richard Gasquet was another abject lesson in the Clay Gospel of Rafa.

While Nadal has scattered casualties in the dirt, his potential challengers have had to huff and puff their way through to the second week. Alexander Zverev, should probably be concentrating on his tennis more than his press conferences. He’s almost been run out of the tournament twice in the last two rounds, having had to play five-setters in both rounds.

Seventh seed Dominic Thiem has been nowhere near the player who beat Nadal in Madrid, being his usual inconsistent self. He has needed four sets to dispose of unranked players in the last two rounds and is not playing with the same confidence as we saw in Madrid. It seems likely that he is a bit fatigued as he didn’t take a break before the French Open, having played a small tournament in Lyon til a day before the second Grand Slam of the 2018 tennis calendar.

Fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov was hounded out of the tournament Thursday by perennial giant-killer Fernando Verdasco. In fact, his straight sets defeat was so shocking that Dimitrov has decided to take some time off from tennis to rethink and clear his mind.

The last man to beat Nadal here at Roland Garros, Novak Djokovic, has had a mixed bag of a time as well. His third round match against 13th seed Roberto Bautista-Agut lasted nearly four hours and was a stern test of his willpower and endurance. While he hit 51 winners during that match, Bautista-Agut went toe to toe with him for the first three sets. The fourth set was as good as we’ve seen Djokovic play all throughout the first week of the French Open. While some may view his racket smashing antics negatively, it seems to have given him the emotional outlet he needed to bring his mind back on track.

Tennis, in general, should be rooting for Nadal vs Del Potro and Djokovic vs Zverev in the semis.

However, this is Nadal’s house. If the God of Clay so chooses to allow the other mortals to pose a challenge, it may happen. Otherwise, he will continue to take pleasure from toying with these others who are some of the best tennis players in the world. And if you want to place some bets on the tournament you can find the best tennis odds at 888sport.