Tennis

Boris Becker not backing Rafael Nadal for French Open

Rafael Nadal has the perfect chance to equal Roger Federer's record 20 Grand Slam titles at the French Open but, for once, the conditions are stacked against the King of Clay heading into the rescheduled event.

A record 12-time winner at Roland Garros, Nadal usually lands in Paris in May fresh from romping through the claycourt season from Monte Carlo to Rome, before pummelling the pretenders to his crown.

But this time, he had played only three matches in the last six months due to the Covid-19 pandemic that prompted him to sit out the US Open.

Nadal, 34, resumed with wins against Dusan Lajovic and Pablo Carreno Busta at the Italian Open last week, before losing in straight sets to Argentina's Diego Schwartzman in the quarter-finals, where he made 30 unforced errors and surrendered his serve five times.

Six-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker believes Nadal's scant preparation could prove costly.

He said: "Even a Rafael Nadal needs match practice and that's missing this year. He remains my No. 1 for the title, but the others' chances are much better this year."

Federer skipped the tournament as he is recovering from knee surgery, but others such as Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic are better prepared for Roland Garros, which starts on Sunday, as they have played in this month's US Open. - REUTERS

Tennis