Playing his third match of the season, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is still without a victory in 2021, losing to Tommy Paul 6-3, 6-3 in 68 minutes in Lyon. Struggling with injuries, Tsonga has had a couple of rough years behind him, unable to reach his previous level and hoping for a better run in the rest of the season. Asked about Roland Garros, Tsonga mentioned Rafael Nadal as the top favorite, praising the 13-time champion and his record in Paris. Rafa made a debut in Paris in 2005, winning the title a few days after turning 19 and forging his path towards tennis immortals.
From the previous 16 Roland Garros appearances, Nadal claimed 13 titles and suffered only two losses against Robin Soderling in 2009 and Novak Djokovic in 2015. After disappointing runs in 2015 and 2016, Rafa returned at his best at his favorite Major, securing four straight titles and matching Roger Federer’s record of 20 Major crowns last October. Playing in Paris with no form or matches in his legs, Nadal faced harsh conditions in the French capital last October, dealing with cold and rainy weather and a roof above Court Philippe-Chatrier.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga picks Rafael Nadal as the top favorite at Roland Garros.
Passing all those obstacles, Nadal beat all seven rivals in straight sets to write history books, dominating the opening four rounds and toppling Jannik Sinner, Diego Schwartzman and Novak Djokovic to wrap up the event in style. Rafa will travel to Paris with momentum on his side, claiming the tenth Rome Open crown over Novak Djokovic and hoping for more of the same at his beloved Major in the opening weeks of June.
“Rafa is an inevitable favorite at Roland Garros. No one can doubt that at the moment; even those who are capable of beating him on clay have to agree with that. Rafa has won 13 titles in Paris within 15 years; it’s extraordinary. Nadal and Djokovic restored the order in Rome and showed they are still the favorites at Majors. Rafa is five years younger than Roger, and it’s exceptional that he has already matched Roger’s 20 Major titles. If Rafa wins more crowns in the upcoming years, and that’s very likely, the GOAT debate should be over,” Jo-Wilfried Tsonga said.