Thanks to quarterfinal losses at Monte-Carlo and Madrid, Rafael Nadal has slipped down in the ATP rankings this week to No.3, below Daniil Medvedev. And, here’s the kicker: Nadal will stay there and be seeded No.3 at Roland Garros because he is dropping 1000 points from his Rome title this week, and cannot gain any points, unless he decides to play a 250 event in the weeks between Rome and Roland-Garros, which we all know is very unlikely.
So what does a No.3 seeding mean for the King of Clay in Paris?
Really, one thing: Because Nadal will be seeded third there is a 50-50 chance that he can be drawn to face Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals. If he was seeded second he would be assured of staying in the lower half and avoiding Djokovic until the final.
— Internazionali Bnl (@InteBNLdItalia) May 9, 2021
Nadal, of course, will not make a fuss about the seeding, but we know that these things matter in tennis, more than many realize. Sure, Djokovic has yet to show great form on the clay in 2021, and he was handled easily by Nadal in last year’s RG final, but Novak is well rested and if he picks up his form in Rome, where he is playing this week and where he is a five-time champion, he could be ready to peak in Paris.
Let us not forget that Djokovic is one of just two men to have ever defeated Nadal on the terre battue in Paris. That victory came in the quarterfinals in 2015. And if you’re scoring at home, neither of Nadal’s losses at Roland-Garros have come in the final. History says – if you are coming for the King you best come at him before the final. Maybe Djokovic will get that chance this year in Paris.
On the flip side, Nadal could end up being drawn in No.2-seeded Daniil Medvedev’s half, which means that he’d not only avoid Djokovic, he could also avoid Dominic Thiem. Thiem, a two-time Roland-Garros finalist, is also just beginning to find his form on the clay in 2021. Of course there are plenty of other players to worry about in Paris. Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Matteo Berrettini, and a Swiss guy by the name of Roger. Last name, Federer in case you’ve forgotten.
Bottom line? You need to win seven matches to take home the coupe des mousquetaires in Paris, and nobody knows that better than Rafael Nadal. The draw gods will have their say, but in the end, the best player will take the title.