Andrey Rublev’s Early French Open Exit Removes Hurdle For Rafael Nadal

Andrey Rublev French Open
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Andrey Rublev has been knocked out of the French Open in the first round. He was faced with a brutal opening encounter with Jan-Lennard Struff, who is always a tough opponent for anyone. Despite a resilient fight back from two sets down, Rublev eventually bowed out 3-6 6-7 6-4 6-3 4-6. Rublev was set to meet Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals, but it’s now looking like Nadal will have a much more comfortable ride to the semifinals, where he is seeded to face Novak Djokovic.

Andrey Rublev Exit Removes Obstacle For Nadal at French Open

Andrey Rublev’s loss is a hugely disappointing one. The talented Russian youngster has been one of the top performers on the ATP Tour over the last year, and he’s looked much better on clay. He reached the Monte Carlo Masters final this year and secured some impressive wins in the build up to Paris, but was unable to bring this form. Struff is an excellent player with a similar style of play, so it really came down to who could hit with more power and precision. With Rublev gone, it’s looking like Nadal’s journey to the semifinals has become much easier.

Relatively speaking there are rarely, if any, players that are a genuine hurdle for Nadal at Roland Garros. Given that he is the 13-time champion and has a mind-blowing record of 102 wins with just 2 losses, it’s hard to say that players can cause him much trouble. Only Robin Soderling and Novak Djokovic have ever beaten him at the French Open. On top of this, Nadal was struggling physically and mentally on both occasions.

Despite this, it is possible to beat Nadal. His record in Paris is outstanding, but there are plenty of players to have beaten him on clay. Rublev is one of those players, who beat him in an incredible match in Monte Carlo this year. This was Rublev’s first victory over Nadal, and his power was highly impressive. Nadal struggled to deal with it all match, and couldn’t find a way to out-hit him.

Nadal often gets off to a slow start in the clay season, so this wasn’t a complete shock. His days of dominating the entire clay season are surely over. However, we are yet to see this extend into the French Open, where he remains as dominant as ever. Even Rublev at his very best would be unlikely to beat him, but he could have done enough to give Nadal trouble.

Can Anyone Take Down Nadal?

Whether or not Rublev would have caused a major upset, Nadal still has a considerably easier road now. The only genuine threats he would have faced were Rublev, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Novak Djokovic. With Rublev gone, it’s looking less likely that he’ll have any trouble before he reaches the semifinals. With Thiem out and Tsitsipas not at his best, it’s looking like Djokovic may be the only man who can stop the epic Spaniard from winning his 14th French Open title.

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