Rafael Nadal will not be the second seed at Roland Garros this year. The Spanish #1 has not had a great start to the 2021 season.
Nadal started at the Australian Open, where he had straight sets wins in the first four rounds. Although pushed in the third round by Brit Cameron Norrie, the Spaniard had not dropped a set to the quarterfinal. In the quarterfinal Nadal faced Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Greek was no match at all for the Spanish #1 in the first two sets and all was going as it should for Nadal. Tsitsipas, who was the fifth seed, took the next two sets and forced a decider.
Nadal was pushed all the way and the Greek broke serve towards the end of the set to take out the second seed from the first grand slam of the year. Tsitsipas went on to lose to Daniil Medvedev in the semifinal in straight sets. Medvedev then lost to Novak Djokovic in the final also in straight sets.
The Spaniard’s next outing was in April at the Monte Carlo Masters. Seeded third, Nadal once again made light work of the first couple of rounds and then in the quarterfinal he was against Andrey Rublev. The Russian was the sixth seed and after dropping one set against Nadal, went on to make the final. Rublev then lost to fourth seed Tsitsipas.
Following on from Monte Carlo was Barcelona, essentially his home tournament. Nadal was the top seed. After dropping a couple of sets en route, the Spaniard was in the final. It was a rematch against Tsitsipas. The Spaniard was taken the distance again, but this time was victorious against the Greek. This was Nadal’s first trophy since the French Open in 2020.
Still in Spain the Madrid Open followed. Nadal was top seed and eased through the first two rounds. In the quarterfinal the Spaniard faced Alexander Zverev. The German was fifth seed and defeated Nadal in straight sets. Zverev went on to make the final of the 2021 Madrid Open.
These results mean that when Roland Garros comes around, Rafael Nadal will not be the #2 seed. Medvdev is set to “jump” over the Spaniard and be the second seed. Essentially they should meet in the semi-finals. If they both get that far.
With Roland Garros being a two week event, there is time for Nadal to get deep into the latter stages of the tournament. The Spaniard has won the French Open a recording busting 13 times. In 2013 Nadal was actually the fifth seed due to a poor run of form. The Spaniard still won the event.
Wimbledon has previously used its own formula for the men’s seedings. This was because there were not that many grass court events. That part of the season is very short with only eight top tier events. There is no grass court Masters, although there should be.
The All England Club announced that from 2021 it would no longer be using its own formula. Instead it would base the seeding on ranking alone. This brings it in line with the other Grand Slams. Although the tournaments can seed how they like, they usually follow the world rankings.
Being seeded third should not be an issue for Nadal. Nicknamed the “King of Clay,” the Spaniard stands alone with the most wins at Roland Garros. The first couple of matches over five sets will show how Nadal will manage at the event. The bookies still have the Spaniard as the favorite. Which is understandable, as clay is usually the best surface.
Rafael Nadal has certainly won most of his titles on the red dirt. Although it would be wonderful for the Spaniard to be the second seed, it won’t dent his chances if he is not.
Main Photo from Getty.