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French Open 2018: How can Rafael Nadal be stopped?

24 May 2018 20:59

Rafael Nadal's record at the French Open is frightening.

After amassing 10 titles at Roland Garros, the Spaniard remains the man to beat at the second grand slam of the season.

So what do his opponents have to do to get the better of the sport's dominant force on clay?

Here we take a look at how any would-be conquerors might set about their mission, with some suggestions more serious than others ...

 

BE AGGRESSIVE

His 2016 withdrawal apart, Nadal has only been beaten twice in the last 13 years at Roland Garros. The first of those defeats came at the hands of Robin Soderling, who upset the defending champion in the fourth round in 2009. And the Swede has given his verdict on how to get the better of Nadal.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Soderling said: "To beat Rafa on clay, especially in best of five sets, you have to be aggressive and dictate the points. That's how I played naturally, so it was maybe a bit easier for me. But I also tried to be a bit more aggressive than normal and also take a few more risks, and that day it really worked."

 

PRAY THAT HIS BODY PLAYS UP

Nadal is a man with very few weaknesses, but every so often his body gives up on him. Persistent wrist and knee problems have been his main fitness worries over the years and he was forced to withdraw from this tournament after two matches due to the former in 2016, having romped to a pair of straight-sets wins - conceding only nine games.

It was a hip issue that brought an end to his Australian Open campaign earlier this year, so his physical condition can never be totally relied upon.

 

CONSTRUCTION INTERRUPTION

Those clutching at straws for ways to stop Nadal might look to the construction work currently being carried out at Roland Garros, which is in the middle of receiving a makeover that is set to be complete in 2020.

In all likelihood, all evidence of any construction work will be removed in time for the start of the tournament, but a well-timed hammer against a nail or a well-placed crane high above Court Philippe Chatrier could be enough to put Nadal off his serve.

SURELY 10 IS ENOUGH?

If all else fails, just hope that Nadal is satisfield with his already sizeable haul. Nadal has won four more French Open titles than any other player in the Open era - Bjorn Borg sits on six, ahead of Mats Wilander, Ivan Lendl and Gustavo Kuerten on three. Give someone else a chance, eh, Rafa?

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