Nine-times French Open champion Rafa Nadal will no longer be regarded as an “immovable obstacle” at Roland Garros this year, according to twice former winner Jim Courier.
The American, who ruled the claycourt grand slam in 1991 and 1992, has watched the Spaniard’s increasing vulnerability on the red dust with interest in the build-up to the year’s second grand slam, which begins in Paris on Sunday. While Courier believes the best-offive- set format means Nadal remains formidable, he makes world number one Novak Djokovic favourite followed by Japan’s Kei Nishikori.
“For the first time in many years Nadal will not be the favourite going into Roland Garros,” Courier, who will commentate on the tournament for British channel ITV, said. “That role is now firmly occupied by Novak Djokovic.
Nadal is less vulnerable in Paris, given the best of five-set format which allows him more time to problem solve but there are now guys in the locker room who see him as an opportunity rather than an immovable obstacle.”