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Eye of the Coach #53 – Why the clay season will be fascinating between Djokovic and Nadal

In the latest episode of Eye of the Coach, Patrick Mouratoglou casts his eye across the field ahead of the clay season

April 8, 2022
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The figures

Rafael Nadal might have 13 Roland-Garros titles to his credit – but Patrick Mouratoglou thinks it’ll be Novak Djokovic who goes to Paris as the favourite for the crown.

In the latest episode of Eye of the Coach, Mouratoglou wonders if the interruption to the Spaniard’s stunning start to the season will have serious consequences in Paris.

And he tips a couple of outsiders who might make a dash for their first-ever Grand Slam title – should the competition prove to be an open one.

Key moments

  • 0.11 – Mouratoglou says it is likely to be very exciting at Roland-Garros this year for a number of reasons.
  • 0.22 – Novak Djokovic will have returned to action, but it will be difficult to him to reclaim his maximum confidence ahead of the second Grand Slam of the year.
  • 0.32 – The next weeks will tell us what is likely to happen at Roland-Garros as the battle for the record number of Grand Slam titles resumes between Djokovic and current leader Rafael Nadal.
  • 0.58 – Due to his injury, Nadal is unlikely to play many tournaments ahead of the French Open, which Mouratoglou describes as a “big hurdle”. It means Nadal can’t play himself in to form and has no option but to play well straight away. Previously, Mouratoglou says, “he needed four or five tournaments to be the real Rafa.”
  • 1.22 – This will be the most open Roland-Garros for the last 10 or15 years.
  • 1.34 – There could be a joker in the pack with an outsider making a challenger. Mouratoglou tips either Carlos Alcaraz or Stefanos Tsitsipas for their consistency on clay.
  • 1.46 – However, if Djokovic puts together a winning streak before then, Mouratoglou thinks it’ll be a much less open competition: “When Novak is at his top, even on clay, I think he’s the best player in the world.”
  • 2.01 – Djokovic has beaten Nadal many times on clay before.
  • 2.22 – If they have to play each other in the latter stages of Roland-Garros in June, both will be thinking about last year’s semi-final, when the Serbian won in four gruelling sets.
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