Mats Wilander says Rafael Nadal stumbling upon a top player in the early French Open rounds could be a problem for Nadal but also a problem for the Spaniard’s opponent. Nadal, who is ranked at No 9 in the world, will exit the top-10 for the first time since 2005 when the ATP rankings list gets updated after the Indian Wells Masters.
Since Nadal hasn’t played since the Australian Open and it is unclear when he will return to action, suddenly there is a real chance of seeing Nadal ranked outside the top-10 come the French Open time. If that indeed happens, the doors will be left open to the possibility of Nadal facing Novak Djokovic or other top players from the third round onwards.
Wilander on the possibility of Nadal facing a top player early at RG
“I think it makes a huge difference because if you’re going to an ATP 1000 or the French Open and you know that there is a chance that I might play the No.
1 or No. 2 in the round of 32, that brings on nerves. And I think for someone like Rafa Nadal, who’s so smart and he’s so good, especially on clay, he wants these matches that he cannot play at 100% in terms of his level [against lower-ranked opponents] but still win to build some confidence.
And I think when you have a chance to run into the best players in the world after two matches, then suddenly that’s taken away from you. Now, on the other hand, if I would be one of the top four players in the world and there is a chance that I might play Rafa Nadal in the third round, oh, my goodness.
That’s horrible! So, like most people say, it’s easier to beat the best players early in the tournament. For sure. But where do you put Rafa Nadal now coming back after injury? One of the best players in the world or a dark horse who’s very dangerous even to the likes of Novak Djokovic or Carlos Alcaraz or the other top players?” Wilander told Eurosport’s Arnold Montgault.
Last week, Nadal pulled out of Indian Wells and Miami. In his message, Nadal didn’t give any clear timetable regarding his return. The general expectation is that Nadal will try to be ready for the Monte Carlo Masters, which starts on April 9th.