‘Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are more vulnerable every year,’ says Mats Wilander
Mats Wilander says he can see a potential vulnerability in Rafael Nadal, and he thinks it’s one that could see Jannik Sinner win the French Open.
There are few people looking beyond Nadal for yet another title at Roland Garros next month, and those who are will be tipping the likes of Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem, or Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Wilander famously won the French Open as a teenager himself when few fancied him to do so, and he has thrown another surprise name into the fold for a potential men’s champion this year.
“I actually think Jannik Sinner can win it,” Eurosport expert Wildander said. “The weird thing is I don’t think Musetti can but they’re from the same country.
“I do think there is a chance because I think that Novak and Rafa are more vulnerable every year not in terms of losing necessarily but more vulnerable because the younger guys are hitting the ball so hard most of them on both sides.
“They have big serves and I think they are taking a little bit of Rafa’s and Novak’s confidence away from them, leaving Roger Rafa and Novak with the only ammunition left which is the experience of playing five sets.
“I think that’s their strength and that’s the difference between the players today is that they know how to play five sets and the others do not.
“But I do think there is a chance that the younger players take a chunk out of Nadal’s confidence in one match and that could be first round second round and Nadal doesn’t look quite as good because he won in four sets maybe a tie break, and then he plays another match and now he’s being bullied around again and he wins in four again.
“Pretty easy score again but he doesn’t dominate any easy matches before the finals and suddenly he is there with less confidence than when he started.
“I think that’s been Rafa strength over the years he’s been so dominant and his confidence grows with each match.
“I think you can see that in Barcelona and in Rome against Shapovalov for example. How does that guy win Rome when he was match point down against Shapovalov? Because he’s Rafa Nadal.
“But they think they can beat him and that’s why I think if they can beaten then there is now an opportunity for someone like Jannik Sinner to win. Are the chances big? No. But nor were the chances when I won.