Can Nadal Be Stopped in Paris?

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The 2021 French Open is almost upon us and it promises to be a fantastic Grand Slam at Roland Garros!

Rafael Nadal

The French Open takes place from May 30th to June 13th and Rafael Nadal will be aiming to make history by becoming the first male player to reach 21 Grand Slam singles titles.

Nadal, who is alongside his great rival Roger Federer on 20, is the favourite and can overhaul the Swiss if he tastes Roland Garros glory for a record-extending 14th time.

The women’s tournament could be dominated by two former winners – Ashleigh Barty and Iga Swiatek, especially after Simona Halep was ruled out due to a calf injury.

Thiem Could Foil Nadal’s Bid for History

Is there any stopping Rafael Nadal? History suggests the Spanish legend is going to be very difficult to beat at his favourite hunting ground but there were chinks in his armour in Monaco and Madrid and his recent Italian Open victory was far from flawless.

Nadal will be 35 by the time the French Open final is played and, with the younger brigade getting better and better, there’s no real desire to back him at just 5/6.

Novak Djokovic is the logical alternative, but he’s struggled against Nadal in recent meetings on this surface, including the 2020 French Open final and last week’s Rome showpiece.

Instead, Dominic Thiem catches the eye at 6/1. That price comes with a caveat – Thiem has struggled with a foot injury for a while and has not looked at his best, but the 2020 US Open champion has potentially been saving himself for a tilt at the Roland Garros title.

Thiem, probably the second-best clay-court player in the world on his best form, reached the French Open final in 2018 and 2019 and has the ability to take Nadal out of his comfort zone with his power-packed tennis.

Others to consider are 7/1 Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev, who could be a decent each-way bet at 16/1 if he gets a kind draw.

Swiatek the One to Beat With Chief Rivals Struggling

Iga Swiatek went from a mini-slump to dominate in Rome and the 19-year-old Pole has what it takes to become the first woman since Justine Henin in 2007 to retain the French Open.

Taking 7/2 shots in WTA events is not an advisable long-term punting strategy but Swiatek looked imperious on clay in Paris a year ago and again in Italy last week, and her chief rivals are threatening to fall by the wayside.

World number one Ash Barty, who is 5/1 to win the French, retired with an arm injury in Rome, while Halep has been ruled out after she tore her left calf in the Eternal City.

It all points to a Swiatek title defence, although big-hitting Aryna Sabalenka and living legend Serena Williams are among those aiming to stop her.

If anyone is to deny the Pole, though, it could be 25/1 Bianca Andreescu, providing she is fit enough to do herself justice having not played since Miami.

The Canadian made the final on that occasion, but was forced to retire against Barty. She has little clay-court experience at the top level but does like the surface and could spring a surprise.

*All odds correct at time of writing

Joe is a writer that has covered a whole range of sports for the last 10 years as a journalist and specialises in writing high-quality content on tennis and golf.

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