By denying Nadal special status, the tournament risks a fiasco for Rafa’s side

At Roland Garros,

In 2020, Wimbledon marked the end of an 18-year-old exception that Rafael Nadal would have done without: the special method for assigning seeds, independent of the ATP ranking since 2002. Based on performances on grass, it disadvantaged the Spaniard as much as it benefited Federer, who had thus “stolen” the status of No. 2 seed for the last time at the All England Club in 2019.

There were others. In 2010, world number 1 Nadal was asked to take number 2 on the London turf to leave his majesty on the throne. Today the question of compensation therefore logically arises. And who other than Roland-Garros to give Rafa his due, for the draw for his last Roland, Thursday afternoon? After all, isn’t Paris to Nadal what London is to Roger?

For Djokovic “Nadal is still the biggest favorite” at RG

Yes, well, ok, the Wimbledon seeds were designated on the basis of a rational calculation, and, a small detail of nothing at all, the Swiss did not start from 276th place in the world, unlike the Spaniard. But with a little bad faith and turning a blind eye to his recent eliminations in front of Hurkacz, Lehecka and De Minaur, there is always a good excuse to make Rafa THE top seed among the top seeds. Take Novak Djokovic as an example: “when you talk about Roland-Garros and Nadal is there, he is always the biggest favorite for me”.

Sorry, but in our book, that’s the very definition of top seed. And if he’s not number one, too bad, let him be just high enough to avoid eating Alcaraz or Sinner in the first round (in the second if we’re optimistic) and last a minimum in his last Roland. Let’s not be afraid to stack the dice for once, it’s in the general interest and that of the tournament. “The Rafa myth made the tournament grow,” conceded at Eurosport Amélie Mauresmo, director of Roland-Garros, no later than Sunday. Why sit on the benefit of a sublime last dance? All it took was a little help, the return on investment of which would surely have been worth the effort, as demonstrated by the injured beast’s first two training sessions in Paris, in a central court that was not full to capacity but almost.

Special status, its “advantages and disadvantages”

Our gesticulations will, however, be in vain. The official position has been known for a month: the director of RG had warned everyone at the end of April, during a press conference in the new Chatrier auditorium. “We raised the question a few months ago,” she said, “but it’s not current. Wimbledon did it. There are advantages but there are also disadvantages. ” Which ? Offend another player?

That Nadal, then in the fight with Federer and Djokovic for the status of GOAT and world number 1, could have felt aggrieved by the ranking on grass specific to Wimbledon, still passes. But who on the circuit today would have the audacity to oppose a gift given by a tournament to which Rafa gave so much, for whom he endured so much? Nole? Not even. Now out of reach of the Grand Slam prize list, he would have had every interest in supporting a decision favorable to his rival to capture a little of this popularity which has escaped him so much. There is only zeal and respect for the tennis institution to explain the rigidity of Roland-Garros on this issue. Unless for its organizers it was a way of reminding us that the tournament remained bigger than any single player. RG is bigger than Nadal, that’s obvious, but he will be less taller without him.

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