Rafael Nadal begins his bid for a first Rolex Paris Masters title on Wednesday night against the unorthodox Adrian Mannarino in the second round.
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One of just two Masters 1000 titles (Miami) that he’s never won, can Rafael Nadal emerge triumphant at the Rolex Paris Masters for the first time this week – and with it, secure the year-end No. 1 ranking? He opens his campaign against Adrian Mannarino on Wednesday night.
In a battle with Novak Djokovic for the year-end No. 1 ranking, Nadal – who will return to the top spot next Monday regardless of results this week in Paris – can actually wrap up the No. 1 ranking if he can win the tournament. However, the Spaniard doesn’t have a good record at the last Masters 1000 event of the season, with his best result coming way back in 2007 when he made the final on his tournament debut. Since then, Nadal has withdrawn from Paris on six occasions and hasn’t been past the quarter-final stage since 2014 and only played the tournament three times since 2009.
It’s certainly a far cry from his extraordinary record across the city at Roland Garros, but in saying that, Nadal arrives in Paris in his best condition in years, winning 28 of his last 29 matches, while he is also recently removed from a big moment in his personal life after marrying his long-time girlfriend last week.
Nadal has compiled a 48-6 record for the season and won his 19th Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open in his last competitive tournament, propelling him to within one slam of Roger Federer’s record haul of 20. The 33-year-old struggled with injury at the start of the season after losing the Australian Open final to Djokovic, beginning his clay season by failing to make the final of Monte-Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid after struggling with a knee injury through March, but he’s only lost one match since, winning Rome, Roland Garros, the Canada Masters and U.S. Open in the process.
“I’m super happy with my season. [It was] a tough beginning of the season. Then I was able to find a way to be back playing at a very high level of tennis and [to] be in the situation that I am today,” Nadal said. “After Monte-Carlo [this] was something very difficult to imagine. So I’m very proud about the year that I am having and it’s the moment to keep pushing a little bit until then.”
Nadal hasn’t played since pulling out on the final day of the Laver Cup with an elbow injury – how will he fare upon his return to action in Paris on Wednesday night?
Adran Mannarino (PA Images)
Adrian Mannarino in his first opponent. The Frenchman has never been past the second round in Paris in eight previous appearances, and he’s unlikely to break that barrier again after drawing Nadal, but did score a dominant win in his opening round, easing past Casper Ruud by a 6-4 6-2 scoreline on Monday.
Overall, it’s been a strange old season for the 31-year-old. Mannarino dropped to his lowest ranking in three years earlier in the season at No. 69, but he also snapped a six-match losing streak in ATP Finals as he finally captured his first career title in s-Hertogenbosch during the grass season, defeating Jordan Thompson in the final. Mannarino also lost his first six matches of the season, but he’s been getting back to some of his best tennis over the last couple of months, reaching the Round of 16 at the Canada and Cincinnati Masters, while he also finished runner-up to Alex de Minaur at the Zhuhai Championships and Andrey Rublev at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow to climb back up the rankings to a current mark of No. 43.
Mannarino has only played Nadal once before, pushing him in a tight second set as he lost 1-6 6-7(6) in the second round of Beijing in 2016. Mannarino doesn’t have much firepower, but he does have a lot of finesse and variety, which the Frenchman uses to outmanoeuvre his opponents. However, the problem for him is that’s simply not going to work against Nadal, so he will have to take more risks than he’s normally comfortable with to have any chance of making a contest out of this. Anything other than a routine Nadal victory would be a big surprise.
Nadal vs Mannarino ATP Paris live streaming, preview and tips – Nadal starts bid for first Rolex Paris Masters title
Rafael Nadal begins his bid for a first Rolex Paris Masters title on Wednesday night against the unorthodox Adrian Mannarino…
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