Nadal eyes Fed­erer record

The Freeman - - Sports -

The undis­puted king of clay, Rafael Nadal is one ti­tle away from match­ing Roger Fed­erer’s all-time Grand Slam record, but 15 years on from the Spa­niard’s first French Open tri­umph he ap­pears more vul­ner­a­ble than ever at his beloved Roland Gar­ros.

Nadal owns an as­tound­ing 93-2 record in Paris dat­ing back to his de­but in 2005, when, still a teenager, he be­came the first player to win the French Open on his first at­tempt since Mats Wi­lan­der in 1982.

Fast-for­ward to the present day, and his 19 Grand Slam crowns -- a record 12 of which have come at Roland Gar­ros -- cou­pled with Fed­erer’s ab­sence af­ter knee surgery leave him on the brink of history at a venue where he has won each of the past three years.

Yet a mul­ti­tude of fac­tors, mostly be­yond his con­trol, have con­spired against Nadal and of­fered hope to his chief ri­vals -- namely No­vak Djokovic and re­cent US Open win­ner Do­minic Thiem.

The heav­ier con­di­tions could suit hard­court play­ers more and negate some of Nadal’s lethal top­spin, pos­si­bly aid­ing Thiem who has fin­ished run­ner-up in Paris twice in suc­ces­sion.

Also, Nadal will head into the French Open with­out a clay ti­tle un­der his belt for the first time, hav­ing lost in straight sets to Diego Schwartz­man in the quar­ter-fi­nals at Rome -- his first tour­na­ment in six months.

Spain’s ten­nis great Rafael Nadal sets his sights on Roger Fed­erer’s record as he heads to next week’s French Open in Paris.

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