When you subscribe, we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters. Sometimes they include recommendations for other newsletters or related services that we offer. Our privacy notice explains in more detail how we use your data and your rights. You can unsubscribe anytime.
Rafael Nadal’s rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have been reminded by Greg Rusedski that it is “almost impossible” to beat the Spaniard at Roland Garros after his comeback victory over Denis Shapovalov to reach the quarter-finals of the Italian Open.
The ‘King of Clay’ saved two match points after being at one point 4-0 in the first 16 minutes of the game, then 6-3, 3-0.
Nadal produced a brilliant fight to win 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 and converted his second match point in his third set tiebreak at Foro Italico.
It took three and a half hours, but Nadal is now in his 97th career Masters 1000 quarter-final as he tries to win a 10th Italian Open.
Nadal suffered a disappointment in Monte Carlo and Madrid despite winning the Barcelona Open and this is his last tournament before the French Open later this month.
The 34-year-old returns to Paris in search of his 14th triumph at the event and a 21st Grand Slam record overall, which would see him surpass Federer.
And world No.1 Djokovic and Federer have been warned that if they believe themselves capable of defeating Nadal, they must remember that their rival is nearly unbeatable at Roland Garros.
Last year’s final saw Nadal beat Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 on the Philippe Chatrier court to tie Federer on 20 slams apiece.
“Roland Garros is another place. His record there is incredible. 125 wins, two losses, ”said Amazon Prime’s Rusedski, the former Britain No.1, after Nadal rebounded to beat Shapovalov.
“On top of that, you have to think it’s three out of five sets. Beating Rafa in two of three is easier but still difficult on clay.
“At Roland Garros, three out of five is almost impossible. Ironically, Rafa hit his best tennis.
“We thought against Sinner that he started to want it, but you have to watch the whole race.
“Lost against [Andrey] Rublev in Monte Carlo, suddenly wins Barcelona, loses against [Alexander] Zverev in Madrid, he can still win this tournament. ”
“He’s not playing his best tennis so he hasn’t peaked at the right time yet, but he will be at the top for Roland Garros. This is the problem.
“He knows his schedule, he knows what to do, he times it so well. We are talking years ago.
“The record for most slams was 12, then suddenly Sampras got 13. He has 13 in one.
MORE ON TENNIS… Novak Djokovic names six players to replace Big ThreeRafael Nadal responds to imminent disappearance of Federer and DjokovicRafael Nadal dealt a blow to the standings after Zverev’s defeat at the Madrid Open
By canceling 2020, when he had only Rome to win, Nadal entered Roland Garros only once without winning a master’s title on clay in preparation, in 2015.
That year he lost to Djokovic in the quarter-finals in Paris, winning his favorite title four times since.
And Daniela Hantuchova weighed in to say: “I think me and Greg both believe that when Rafa comes to Paris it’s a completely different Rafa.
“You come somewhere, you’ve won a slam 13 times and you can’t help but be confident.
“It doesn’t matter what happened in Rome or Monte Carlo. We must not forget that he won Barcelona which is not a small tournament.
Elsewhere at the Italian Open, seed Djokovic will face world No.5 Stefanos Tsitsipas in Friday’s semi-final, while American Reilly Opelka is tasked with facing Federico Delbonis.
This year’s French Open kicks off on May 30 and will be visited in the French capital on June 13, with Wimbledon starting on June 28.
View today’s front and back pages, download the newspaper, order back issues and use the historical archives of the Daily Express newspaper.