John McEnroe highlights ‘only reason’ why Rafael Nadal may not be French Open favourite

John McEnroe walks in front of camera in hilarious BBC blunder

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John McEnroe has suggested Rafael Nadal’s chronic foot injury might be why Rafael Nadal is not considered the favourite to claim the French Open. Nadal is on a quest for a record-extending 22nd Grand Slam title, and a 14th title in the French capital.

The Spaniard is still searching for his best form after returning from a rib injury earlier this month in Madrid. Following that tournament, his Italian Open campaign was derailed by his foot problem as he succumbed to Denis Shapovalov in the last 16. 

McEnroe believes the Spanard’s fitness concerns are the only reason he might not be considered the favourite to win another title on Court Phillippe Chatrier in a fortnight’s time, with Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic ahead of him with many bookmakers. “Well, the only reason that [Rafael Nadal not being the favourite] would be true is because he seems to have some type of injury,” McEnroe said.

“But obviously, [with] the way he’s played at Roland Garros, it would be pretty impossible to think that he wouldn’t be the favourite, [especially] when you’ve won it 13 times. He did lose last year, and Alcaraz looks incredible. Rafa looked like he was injured in Rome, so it’s hard to say.

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“But you know, I don’t think it matters, ultimately. What matters is how healthy he is: that is what matters.” Despite his fitness concerns, Nadal is focused on playing his best tennis to give himself the best chance to win another title in Paris.

“It (the foot injury) is something that I live every day with, so is nothing new for me and is not a big surprise,” Nadal said. “So I am here just to play tennis and to try to make the best result possible here in Roland Garros, no? And if I don’t believe that this thing can happen, probably I will not be here.”

Teen sensation Alcaraz has captured four titles this year to move into the top 10 in the world rankings, claiming gongs in Rio de Janeiro, Miami, Barcelona and Madrid.

Alcaraz became the first man to beat Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in consecutive matches on clay before becoming the youngest player to lift the title in Madrid. He began his first Roland Garros campaign with a win over Juan Ignacio Londero, 6-4 6-2 6-0 on Sunday.

After picking up his second Masters 1000 title earlier this month, the teenager stated his goal for the second grand slam of the season. “Winning here gives me a lot of confidence ahead of Roland Garros and it’s something I have as my goal,” he told Marca. “My goal this year is to win a Grand Slam and hopefully it will be in Paris.”

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