Sunday, October 25, 2020 | ePaper

Nadal begins 'most difficult' French Open as Serena tries again

  • Print


AFP, Paris :
Rafael Nadal embarks Monday on what he has described as his "most difficult ever Roland Garros" while Serena Williams launches another attempt to clinch an elusive 24th Grand Slam title on her least successful surface.
Nadal, the undisputed king of clay, needs one more major to equal Roger Federer's record of 20, but the Spaniard comes to Paris short of preparation and unhappy with the French Open's choice of new balls.
"The conditions here are probably the most difficult conditions for me ever at Roland Garros for so many different facts," said the world number two.
"The ball is completely different. It is super slow, heavy. It's also very cold, slow conditions."
Nadal won the first of his 12 French Open titles in 2005 and has been beaten just twice in 95 matches here, but now must adjust to the unusual autumnal chill due to the coronavirus-induced delay.
The event began Sunday amid steady drizzle in temperatures struggling to reach 10 degrees (50F), conditions branded "ridiculous" by US Open finalist Victoria Azarenka.
The forecast is little better for day two with the new roof on Court Philippe Chatrier again likely to be closed although overcast weather could give way to clearer skies late in the afternoon.
The heavier atmosphere could negate some of Nadal's lethal topspin as he heads into the event without a clay title under his belt for the first time.
The second seed is not pleased the French Open has switched to a new ball supplier and even believes it could pose physical problems for the players.
"I really believe that the organisation needs to take a look at that for the next couple of years, for the health of the players, too, because the ball is super heavy and becomes dangerous for the elbow and for the shoulders," said Nadal.
However a first-time meeting with Egor Gerasimov, the world number 83 from Belarus, is unlikely to trouble him.
US Open champion Dominic Thiem, the man beaten by Nadal in the final in Paris the past two years, starts his campaign against another former Grand Slam winner, Marin Cilic.
Meanwhile Daniil Medvedev, the fourth seed, is looking to win a match at Roland Garros for the first time when he battles Marton Fucsovics, following three first-round exits.
In the women's draw, Williams returns to action still dealing with the lingering effects of an Achilles injury sustained in her US Open semi-final loss.
The former world number one skipped the Rome tune-up event as a result but is confident of making a challenge for a fourth Roland Garros crown.
"I wouldn't be playing if I didn't think I could perform," said Williams, who turned 39 on Saturday.
"I'm not at 100% physically. But I don't know any athlete that ever plays physically when they're feeling perfect. That's just something I think as athletes we have to play with."
She is playing at Roland Garros for the 18th time, having made her debut in Paris in 1998.
Her last major came at the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant. Since giving birth to baby Olympia, she has reached four finals in nine attempts without being able to land that elusive 24th Slam to equal Margaret Court.
Williams has not gone beyond the last 16 in Paris since her defeat to Garbine Muguruza in the 2016 final.
She takes on American Kristie Ahn in a repeat of their first-round tie in New York.
World number five Elina Svitolina will try to transfer the momentum from her Strasbourg triumph into another deep run. The Ukrainian opens against Varvara Gracheva.
Muguruza faces Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia and fifth seed Kiki Bertens, who like Svitolina sat out the US Open, plays Katarina Zavatska.


More News For this Category

Sabalenka wins 12 straight games in crazy Ostrava comeback

Sabalenka wins 12 straight games in crazy Ostrava comeback

AFP, Prague :Aryna Sabalenka staged a spectacular comeback against Spanish qualifier Sara Sorribes Tormo to reach the semi-finals of the Ostrava Open WTA tournament on Friday.The powerful Belarusian lost

Tokyo opens Olympic aquatics centre

Tokyo opens Olympic aquatics centre

AFP, Tokyo  :Tokyo opened a 15,000-seat swimming venue for the Olympic Games next year on Saturday, with a swimming star diagnosed with leukaemia last year demonstrating freestyle at the

Marcel-BSPA Sports Carnival kicks-off on October 27

Sports Reporter :The Marcel-BSPA Sports Carnival kicks-off on October 27 at Shaheed Tajuddin Indoor Stadium in Paltan Ground. Bangladesh Sports Press Association (BSPA) will arrange the sports carnival with

Kapil Dev stable after emergency coronary angioplasty due to chest pain

Kapil Dev, the former India World Cup-winning captain, is stable after undergoing a coronary angioplasty surgery at the Fortis Hospital in New Delhi late Thursday night due to chest

Ansar and VDP emerge champions in 'Mujib Borsho' Fed Cup Taekwondo

Bangladesh Ansar and VDP taekwondo team emerged the team event champions in 'Mujib Borsho' Federation Cup Taekwondo competition that concluded on Friday at Mohammadpur Taekwondo Club in the city.

Bengal Tigers observe 17th founding anniv

Sports Reporter :The Bengal Tigers observed its 17th founding anniversary at the press box in the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium, Mirpur on Wednesday. Bengal Tigers is the first fan

Najmul XI face Mahmudullah XI in final on Sunday

Sports Reporter :Najmul XI will face Mahmudullah XI in the final of the BCB President's Cup at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in the city's Mirpur on Sunday. The

World 400m champion Salwa’s  anti-doping violation charges dismissed

World 400m champion Salwa’s anti-doping violation charges dismissed

World 400m champion Salwa Eid Naser has had her anti-doping violation charges dismissed by the World Athletics Disciplinary Tribunal.The Bahraini, 22, was provisionally suspended in June after being charged with

Nadal to play Paris Masters next month

Nadal to play Paris Masters next month

AFP, Paris  :Rafael Nadal announced on Tuesday that he will compete in the Paris Masters next month, despite previously saying he might not play again this season.The 34-year-old won a

Lazio defeat Dortmund in Champions League

Jude Bellingham became the youngest English player in Champions League history as he started in Borussia Dortmund's 3-1 defeat at Lazio.At 17 years and 113 days, the midfielder beat the