Nadal hits form after slow start
RAFAEL Nadal (pictured) has hit form at the perfect time heading into the French Open after a slow start, by his standards, to the claycourt season caused some to doubt his chances of continuing his vice-like grip on the tournament.
Nadal has made a habit of cleaning up at the warm-up tournaments to Roland Garros, but semi-final defeats in Madrid, Barcelona and Monte Carlo led to a sense that his dominance on clay might be receding.
Yet with the prospect of a record-extending 12th title appearing far from certain, the Spaniard showed rumours of his demise were greatly exaggerated with an outstanding 6-0 4-6 6-1 victory over Novak Djokovic to win the Italian Open.
Few would now bet against him continuing his dominance on the surface in Paris, where he has only dropped one set since 2016.
Nadal’s rivals will have to hope the King of Clay is shorn of peak fitness.
He had only recently recovered from the knee injury which caused him to retire from Indian Wells, when he lost to Fabio Fognini in straight sets in Monte Carlo, which he described as one of his worst ever displays on clay. He was back to his imperious best in Italy, whitewashing world number one Djokovic in the opening set for the first time on his way to a first title of the season which is unlikely to be the last.