The Scottish Mail on Sunday
Talk of Nadal’s demise proving to be premature
RAFAEL NADAL left Roland Garros 12 months ago in tears, having just about kept it together when he pulled out of his thirdround clash due to wrist trouble.
It looked like this might signal the end of the most extraordinary reign in tennis history, for it would be the second year he had not finished the event holding the Coupe Des Mousquetaires.
Yet, as with his great rival Roger Federer, 2017 has shown that predictions of his demise as a Grand Slam winner may have proved decidedly premature.
It is remarkable to think that, if Nadal beats Stan Wawrinka in today’s final, then the two greatest champions of their era will have collected the first two titles of the season so far. Even more incredible is that it would be a tenth French Open triumph. That would represent the first time any player of either sex has gone into double figures in claiming one of the sport’s quartet of premium titles.
Unusually, he has not been talking himself down. He said: ‘The only thing I care about is I have been playing well the whole event.’
One thing Wawrinka can count on, however, is the crowd. For all his hegemony it has never been unrequited love between Nadal and the hordes on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Perhaps they have tired of his dominance, and in the absence of a French challenger a francophone from their Swiss neighbours would be regarded as the next best thing.