The 13-time Roland-Garros champion will find himself seeded outside the top two, which means he could face Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals
- 09 May 2021
And while Nadal will not worry too much about the change – it also happened earlier in the year – the effect of it could be more important when it comes to Roland-Garros, where the Spaniard will be bidding for his record 14th title.
50-50 chance Nadal and Djokovic are in the same half
Because Nadal’s 1,000 points from his victory in Rome in 2019 will fall off the rankings computer on May 17, he can’t add any points to his current total, even if he wins in the Italian capital for the 10th time, which means he’ll be the No 3 seed (the only possible caveat being if Nadal suddenly decided to play an extra event to chase points, which seems highly unlikely).
As the No 3 seed, it’s therefore a 50-50 shot that he’ll be drawn in the same half as world No 1 Novak Djokovic (rather than Medvedev’s half) and therefore would have to play him in the semi-finals. That could make his title quest that bit more difficult, even if he did beat Djokovic in straight sets in last year’s final.
Will being out of the top two matter?
It’s not the first time Nadal’s been seeded outside the top two at Roland-Garros; in fact, it’s the sixth time in all, including on his debut in 2005, when he won the title as the No 4 seed.
He also won the title in 2013 as the No 3 seed behind Djokovic and Roger Federer and in 2017 when he was seeded No 4. But in 2015, as the No 6 seed and struggling for form, he lost to Djokovic in the quarter-finals and in 2016, when he was seeded No 4, he had to pull out with a wrist injury before the third round.
But with Dominic Thiem set to be the No 4 seed, Nadal may feel that not having to play the Austrian, the runner-up to Nadal in 2018 and 2019, before the final might be beneficial.
Medvedev more concerned with clay than seeding
Medvedev will be the No 2 seed but the Russian’s expectations are low on his worst surface and in particular at Roland-Garros, where he has yet to win a match.
The ATP Finals winner last year, Medvedev said he didn’t think it would make much difference wherever he is seeded.
“Every match I win, the further I go in the tournaments, the better for me,” he told reporters in Rome on Sunday. “I’m not looking to make, like Rafa, 5,000 points during clay season, you know. But the more I make, the better it is, and the better it will be for my confidence on other surfaces, the better it will be for the ranking to be seeded.
“Maybe on some, like for example Roland-Garros, I don’t care if I’m seeded second or third or one. Doesn’t make a difference for me who to play in the semi-final, to be honest. But some other Grand Slams it can make a difference.”