The first round of the French Open began today (27 May 2012), so thoughts will inevitably turn to the eventual winner. Of course, it's hard to look beyond six-time champion Rafael Nadal, this is certainly the view of world number one Novak Djokovic.
It always amuses me when sports stars come out with statements as if they are great revelations. But this is rarely the case; it seems obvious to think of Nadal as the 2012 French Open favourite. Yes, the men's game is currently very competitive between the top four players.
Nevertheless, the Spaniard is very much the man on clay, and his record in Roland Garros is simply superb. It is obvious that he enjoys playing in Paris, the crowd enjoys his style of play, and Nadal can always be confident of winning another title. I think he simply feels more at home here than in any of the other Grand Slam events.
So, Nadal is certainly the favourite, but that is not always a good thing. He is the player that the others want to beat, and that comes with its own pressure. The expectation is for Nadal to win the 2012 title. Now, that sort of pressure might have an impact on some players.
However, any player that is hoping for that from Nadal will surely be left disappointed, because the world number two has too much experience. But the challenge is there for the others to find a way of beating the king of clay.
I think most of us would agree that the main current rivalry is between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. It would be a major surprise if the world's top two players were not contesting the 2012 French Open final.
However, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, and others will have some say in the tournament. The prospect of an Andy Murray Vs Rafael Nadal semi-final is something to look forward to. But I think it is safe to say the 2012 title is Nadal's to lose.
- Sports & Recreation
- Rafael Nadal
- Novak Djokovic