By: Aaron Xiong

With the French Open beginning next Monday, all eyes turn to defending champion Rafael Nadal. With early exits at both the Monte Carlo and Madrid Masters, the 20 time Grand Slam champion has shown that even he is vulnerable on the clay courts.

Although Nadal won the clay tournaments in Barcelona and Rome, it hasn’t been the best start to the clay season that tennis fans are accustomed to seeing. With many of the young guns winning the clay tournaments, fans are questioning whether Rafael Nadal can continue his dominance on the dirt.

PARIS, FRANCE – JUNE 10: Rafael Nadal of Spain hugs the Musketeers’ Cup as he celebrates victory following the mens singles final against Dominic Thiem of Austria during day fifteen of the 2018 French Open at Roland Garros on June 10, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Nadal who is a record 13 time champion in Paris, is seeking his 14 title at the second Grand Slam of the year. Although many proven they can defeat Nadal on clay, very few have been able to even come close to defeating him at the French Open. Holding an astonishing 100-2 match record at the French Open, Nadal is seemingly untouchable in France’s capital.

Despite not racking up titles in Monte Carlo and Madrid where he was the favorite to win both tournaments, tennis fans have seen this show several times. In both 2011 and 2014, Rafael Nadal had only won one of the three clay Masters 1000 tournaments but went on to win the French Open each year. The Spaniard has proven time and time again that defeating him in a best of 5 set match is a lot more difficult than in a best of 3 match.

As the first round of the French Open approaches the tennis scene, many fans and spectators are looking forward to legend returning to his favorite tournament. With the likes of Novak Djokovic and Federer’s recent return to the tour, all eyes look to Nadal as the pressure to defend his title rises again.

Nadal holding the French Open trophy for the 13th time in 2020