2012 French Open: Why People Are Too Quick to Give Rafael Nadal the Title

For every year since 2007, Rafael Nadal has entered the French Open at Roland Garros wearing the tag of favorite.

Each time but one, Nadal has lived up to that billing, and counting his titles in 2005 and 2006, the Spaniard has captured six of the past seven “Coupe des Mousquetaires”.

However, since Rafa’s last triumph, Serbian Novak Djokovic has won ever Grand Slam title, beating Rafa in all three finals.

The latest was an unbelievable showdown in Melbourne, with the Nole outlasting his opponent in five blistering sets of brilliant tennis. This proved once more that Djokovic could hang with the boys–even in a record-breaking match against one the greatest of all-time.

Latest Betting Odds makes Rafael Nadal the betting favorite at the upcoming French Open, with 10/11 odds, whilst the World No. 1 Djokovic is given only 13/8 odds. These odds are brought in from Bovoda Sportsbook.

I am not trying to take anything away from Nadal, who, in my mind, is the greatest clay-courter ever, but I don’t think he should be considered the favorite by any means.

Last year, every single person expected the two top-ranked players in the world to clash on the red clay of Paris.

After all, they had met in Rome and Madrid in clay-court events leading up to Roland Garros (with Novak winning both), but it was not to be.

Nadal punched and scratched his way into the final where he awaited the Djokovic-Roger Federer winner.

Djokovic had no trouble reaching the semis, and it was widely viewed that he would upend Federer, whose clay-court results to date had been sub-par.

However, Federer played his best match of the past year, especially when he needed it most, and stunned Djokovic in a four-set brawl.

Nadal then went on to beat Federer in a great match, even though many thought it was a foregone conclusion that the “King of Clay” would upend his chief rival.

This year, despite Djokovic’s recent dominance over Nadal (seven consecutive wins), everyone is quick to conclude that Nadal is going to take yet another title home to Mallorca this June.

It is a widely held belief around the world of tennis that Nadal and Djokovic will meet in a major for the fourth consecutive major. That prediction seems very logical.

Nadal has made it clear that it takes something very special to beat him in Paris, where he holds a career 45-1 record, and on clay overall, where no man other than Djokovic has beaten him since 2009 (a span of 52 matches and a 50-2 record), and where he previously won 81 straight matches.

Djokovic, on the other hand, has been on an overall tear, as last season he won 10 titles, including three majors, beat Nadal twice on clay and six times overall, and then won another major with another victory over Rafa in Australia.

These two players, in my opinion, are alone in the top tier of tennis right now.

This article is not intended to say that Nadal will not win a seventh title, or even that he shouldn’t enter the tourney as the favorite, but rather to remind people of things.

Things like the fact that Nadal still has yet to solve the reformed Djokovic on clay, and that he benefited from an all-time great having to play one of his all-time best matches in order to win the title last year. Also, Rafa really didn’t look all that strong during his run to the title, including an near-loss in the first  round  to John Isner.

Djokovic has beaten Nadal on clay more than once, and in majors more than once, and I honestly don’t see why he can’t put it together.

Nadal is still a great player, and honestly, he is my pick to win the French, but the belief that he has all but won the title already is ridiculous. Djokovic can play, he is on a mission, and is at least on level terms with Nadal on clay at this point in time.


  1. I don’t know the whole history of slucdheing but in both 2006 and 2007, Thursday quarterfinal winners played the first semifinal on Saturday. Nadal is No.1 player now and he plays Roger’s previous schedule; Quarter on Wed and second semi on Sat. I don’t think US Open slucdheing is catered for Roger. Weather, slucdheing, cakewalk draws, difficult draws, netcord points, sleeping linemen, umpire bias, broken racquet strings, hawkeye or no hawkeye, seed casualties, etc.. All of the above could bring luck or un-luck for players at some point or the other, especially for ones who have been on tour for years. Muller played 2 five setters before he met Davy, but Davy lost. Why fresher and experienced top player did not beat a supposedly tired qualifier? Why Davy’s advantage didn’t work for him? And Rafa did win Wimbledon after last rain delay. If Rafa won today semi, then rain had worked out in favor of Rafa because he was trailing 2 sets to none. Or if Murray won, it worked in Murray’s advantage because he was losing in the third set and he seemed to be out of sorts in the third set. It depends how we look at it and what we want to rememeber, honestly.

  2. what’s convenient and he’s not awlays consistent.But I’m not attacking him. Nor am I attacking you, rabbit. That’s how he gets down and I get to observe it without calling him a bad person. I answered your question, which is simple:Him winning tomorrow doesn’t meet the standard for what I consider a comeback. I’m sorry you took issue with only one part of my argument to the exclusion of everything else I wrote. Raja is the defending champion of the US Open, which means he currently holds a Slam title and he hasn’t missed a single Slam this season, a single masters series event, or the Olympics.He hasn’t gone anywhere, so there’s nothing to comeback from.But if you think his winning tomorrow would put him on par with the kinds of comebacks Serena and Venus have shown the world, or Andre Agassi or Mary Pierce, even, then that’s perfectly fine.I just won’t see it that way.Your guy is about to give you a great joy by winning his 13th Slam. Celebrate it. My opinion means nothing to your celebration.

  3. @Joshua Rafa is NOT the defending champion at the US Open. He lost the title match to Djokovic last year. Also, Nadal is gunning for his 11th slam, NOT his 13th.

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