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From France To Texas & Back Again, Rinderknech 'Climbing The Big Mountain'

  • Posted: May 23, 2022

From France To Texas & Back Again, Rinderknech ‘Climbing The Big Mountain’

Learn more about the 26-year-old Frenchman

Arthur Rinderknech was born to play tennis. The Frenchman’s mother, Virginie Paquet, won a round at Roland Garros in 1986. His father, Pascal, is the director of a tennis club in Paris. The fact that he is competing in singles at his home Grand Slam for the third time makes sense.

His journey, however, is not what you might expect.

Rinderknech can’t remember his earliest moments with a tennis racquet in his hand because of how young he was. “I had the racquet in my hand and wanted to hit the ball and that’s how it started,” he told ATPTour.com. “Then I just fell in love with this sport.”

But Rinderknech, now 26, did not prove his generation’s Richard Gasquet. In fact, he did not crack the Top 500 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings until 2018, when he was 23. That is partly because he did not turn professional as a teen. Instead, he spent four years more than 8,000 kilometres from home in College Station, Texas. Rather than a place visited for its tourist attractions, he was on a campus renowned for college football. Rinderknech opted to attend Texas A&M University, where he played college tennis.

“I think I’m a player that is a little different to a lot of the guys,” Rinderknech told ATPTour.com. “The way I made it, going through college [was different], especially as an international, not as an American player. I never played juniors when I was young, I never played for the French junior team when I was young.”

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The Frenchman added: “I felt like it was the best fit for me. I wasn’t the best in juniors. I was probably only ranked about fifth, sixth or seventh at my age in France, so I didn’t have much help. I wanted to keep playing tennis, not only go to school, and I could do both of them in the States, so that’s why I decided to go there. It was just a great experience and I kept improving.”

When Rinderknech was young, he went with his family to visit friends in Florida a few times between Boca Raton and Miami, so the United States was not completely new to him when he decided on following the college tennis route. He “loved the country and the culture”. The Gassin-native competed under head coach Steve Denton, the two-time Australian Open finalist.

“I felt like he had some good experience to give me, good teaching. He also had a big game, he was tall and served big, which is what I am trying to do,” Rinderknech said. “So I felt like it was the best fit for me, and of course the school is amazing, so it was perfect for me.”

It was not clear from the moment he stepped on campus that professional tennis was the next step, though. “I had this dream but was not really sure I wanted to do it,” Rinderknech admitted.

In the meantime, he studied business. “I’m pretty interested in business. Sports business, or business in general. I think it’s pretty interesting to know what’s going on. You know, manage people, manage money, stuff around. So I felt like it was the best thing for me to study, and also I think it leaves quite a lot of doors open for the future,” the Frenchman said.

But as Rinderknech’s time in Texas went on, his tennis improved. By the end of his college career, he cracked the Top 10 of the college rankings. When he was a junior at Texas A&M, he knew he wanted to play tennis for a living.

“I felt like I was improving in the States at college. My coach told me I should give it a shot, [that my] level was getting better and better,” Rinderknech said. “Then it’s just step by step. You’re getting better, you feel like you’re part of it and you want to get even better, and keep on climbing the big mountain.”

Team France
Rinderknech was a member of the 2022 French ATP Cup team. Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
Rinderknech’s big breakthrough came in January 2020, when he won his first ATP Challenger Tour title in Rennes, France, as the No. 328 player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. He has not looked back since.

Last season, the Frenchman advanced to his first ATP Tour quarter-final and semi-final, and also cracked the Top 100 for the first time in July. Rinderknech’s season finished late, and by the time he ramped up his training for the new year, he did not have much time to reflect, which he did not mind.

“I feel like I belong where I am now, so I’m fine with that,” Rinderknech said. “I’m playing some big tournaments every week, against some good guys, so I feel fine with that.”

The 26-year-old right-hander, who plays big-serving, aggressive tennis, was a member of this year’s French ATP Cup team and made his first tour-level final in Adelaide, where he lost to Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Now Rinderknech, the man with tennis in his DNA, is competing at the biggest events in the world. This will be the first time he competes at Roland Garros without needing a wild card. But he is not overwhelmed by the spotlight. He just wants to be viewed as “a nice guy” who is trying his best to get better.

“It doesn’t change anything,” Rinderknech said. “I just feel lucky to be a part of the biggest tournaments in the world.”

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Play Resumes On All Courts After Rain At Roland Garros

  • Posted: May 23, 2022

Play Resumes On All Courts After Rain At Roland Garros

Norrie and Wawrinka in action

Play has resumed on all courts at Roland Garros after rain had halted action on Monday at 1:02 p.m. local time.

The action continued throughout the two-hour, eight-minute delay on Court Philippe Chatrier, where Spaniard Rafael Nadal and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will be starting their title quests on Philippe Chatrier later, following the completion of two WTA singles matches.

The 13-time champion Nadal will open against Australian Jordan Thompson, while reigning titlist Djokovic will start the defence of his crown against Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka not before 8:45 p.m. in the first night match of the tournament.

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Day 2 Preview: Nadal & Djokovic Aim For Fast Start In Paris

Despite the early rain, there was still time for Filip Krajinovic to notch the first victory of the day, as the Serbian upset 17th seed Reilly Opelka with a 7-6(5), 6-2, 6-3 win.

American Taylor Fritz is in a tight battle with Argentine qualifier Santiago Rodriguez Taverna. The Indian Wells champion Fritz resumes with a 7-6(2), 3-6, 3-1 lead.

Former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka will get his campaign underway against French wild card Corentin Moutet on Court Suzanne Lenglen, while 10th seed Cameron Norrie begins against French wild card Manuel Guinard on Court Simonne Mathieu.

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Djokovic vs Medvedev vs Zverev: The 3-Way Roland Garros Battle For World No. 1

  • Posted: May 23, 2022

Djokovic vs Medvedev vs Zverev: The 3-Way Roland Garros Battle For World No. 1

Learn about the Pepperstone ATP Rankings storylines to watch in Paris

There is always a lot at stake at the majors. There is even more on the line at Roland Garros this year thanks to a three-way battle for the No. 1 spot in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev and World No. 3 Alexander Zverev can all emerge from Paris atop the men’s tennis mountain, setting up for a thrilling fortnight in Paris.

In the immediate aftermath of the clay-court major, Djokovic holds his fate in his own hands in the battle for No. 1. If the Serbian wins the title, he will remain in top spot for a 373rd week on 6 June. If Djokovic does not reach the semi-finals, both Medvedev and Zverev have an opportunity to move to World No. 1.

Potential Pepperstone ATP Rankings Points (6 June) Based On RG Result

 6 June  1R  2R  3R  4R  QF  SF  F  W
 Novak Djokovic  8420  8455  8500  8590  8770  9130  9610  10410
 Daniil Medvedev  7990  8025  8070  8160  8340  8700  9180  9980
 Alexander Zverev  7085  7120  7165  7255   7435  7795  8275  9075

However, one week after Roland Garros concludes, the situation could dramatically change. Because the tournament was played one week later than normal last year, the trio will still count their 2021 Roland Garros points for the week of 6 June.

But on 13 June, Djokovic will drop his 2021 Roland Garros champion’s points (2,000), opening the door for Medvedev or Zverev to replace him at the top of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. If Djokovic does not win Roland Garros this year, he will relinquish top spot that day.  

If Medvedev reaches the Roland Garros final, he will return to World No. 1 on 13 June, even if Djokovic lifts the trophy. If Zverev wins the tournament and Medvedev does not reach the final, the German will become the 28th World No. 1. If Medvedev reaches the semi-finals in Paris and earns more than 15 points at the ATP 250 event in the week of 6 June at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, this would prevent Zverev from going to World No. 1 on 13 June even if he triumphs at Roland Garros.

Potential Pepperstone ATP Rankings Points (13 June) Based On RG Result

 13 June  1R  2R  3R  4R  QF  SF  F  W
 Novak Djokovic  6420  6455  6500  6590  6770  7130  7610  8410
 Daniil Medvedev  7630  7665  7710  7800  7980  8340  8820  9620
 Alexander Zverev  6365  6400  6445  6535  6715  7075  7555  8355

*Does not include potential points earned the week of 6 June
The only thing that could potentially affect these scenarios is if Djokovic or Zverev accept a wild card into an ATP 250 the week of 6 June, when Medvedev is already scheduled to compete.

While the focus will be on the battle for World No. 1, there will be continued attention on the rise of 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz, who enters Roland Garros at a career-high No. 6. Should he win his maiden Grand Slam title, the Spaniard could move to as high as No. 4 on 6 June and No. 3 one week later on 13 June.

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Realist Gasquet Playing 19th Roland Garros: 'I’m Still Motivated To Do My Best'

  • Posted: May 23, 2022

Realist Gasquet Playing 19th Roland Garros: ‘I’m Still Motivated To Do My Best’

Frenchman notched season-best result by reaching Geneva semi-finals

Richard Gasquet started his professional career in 2002 by becoming the youngest match-winner since the formation of the ATP Tour in 1990, qualifying and earning a main-draw win in Monte Carlo at age 15.

More than 20 years later, he holds a 573-355 record as one of the veterans of the game. His 573 match wins are the most of any Frenchman in the Open Era and have helped him to 15 tour-level titles and 17 additional finals.

But the 35-year-old is realistic about the fact that his best tennis may be behind him.

“My best tennis would be difficult,” he said, speaking to ATPTour.com at Indian Wells. “I was No. 7 in the world. It would be very difficult for me to come back to Top 10, even Top 20. But I just want to enjoy it, to be good on court… to have strength, to be free of injuries.”

Gasquet will enter Roland Garros at No. 70 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, and has not been inside the Top 50 in more than a year. He was last in the Top 30 in 2019, and reached his career-high of No. 7 in 2007.

While he may not expect to get back to that lofty position, he has proven his ability to beat players at the top of the game.

He enters Roland Garros on the heels of his deepest tournament run of the 2022 season — a semi-final showing in Geneva. Gasquet defeated Daniil Medvedev in straight sets on his way to the last four, earning the second victory of his career against a top two opponent (He defeated then-World No. 1 Roger Federer in a third-set tie-break in Rome in 2011.).

“Of course I’m sure I can win many great matches,” he said. “I did against top players, even Top 10, winning tough matches and playing well.

“But I’m 36 this year, so it gets more and more difficult. I just want to enjoy it and try my best to go forward.”

A three-time Grand Slam semi-finalist, Gasquet has reached four ATP Tour quarter-finals in 2022, including three on clay. In addition to his win over Medvedev, he has three Top-40 victories on the year, beating Ugo Humbert in consecutive events (Australian Open, Montpellier) and Tommy Paul in Estoril. He also took eventual champion and World No. 7 Andrey Rublev to a third-set tie-break in Marseille.

The Frenchman has worked to play more aggressive tennis in order to stay competitive in his mid-30s.

“I’m trying to develop my game to play more offensive. Sometimes it’s not so easy,” he said. “[I’m also trying] to serve better. I think the serve is the key for tennis.”

Gasquet will face South Africa’s Lloyd Harris in the Roland Garros first round, and could meet 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz in the third round. The young Spaniard beat him in the Umag final last July to claim his first ATP Tour title.

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But two fellow 30-somethings remain among the favourites to win this year’s men’s singles crown in Paris: defending champion Novak Djokovic and 13-time champ Rafael Nadal.

“Of course it’s an inspiration, but nobody can compare with Nadal, with Federer,” Gasquet said, discussing the recent success of his contemporaries. “These are the best players in the history of tennis, so it’s really tough for me to compare myself with these kinds of guys.”

For Gasquet, his goals for his home-nation major are simple. In his 19th Roland Garros, he’s not necessarily looking to improve upon his best run to the 2016 quarter-finals.

“Just to play my best, to have fun on the court, to feel some great things on the court — especially in big tournaments like Roland Garros, big stages,” Gasquet said of his late-career targets.

“I’m still motivated to play… I’m still motivated to do my best to be still on top.”

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Gamers: How Video Games Help Nishioka 'Forget About Tennis'

  • Posted: May 23, 2022

Gamers: How Video Games Help Nishioka ‘Forget About Tennis’

Japanese lefty also reveals the star player who excels in Mario Kart

Yoshihito Nishioka will face a tough test on Monday when he plays Novak Djokovic in the first round at Roland Garros. The Japanese lefty has lost his two previous ATP Head2Head matches against the World No. 1, who has not fallen short of the quarter-finals on the Parisian clay since 2009.

Nishioka, who has climbed as high as No. 48 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings has off-court hobbies that include video games.

In this edition of ‘Gamers’, ATPTour.com spoke to Nishioka about his gaming sessions with fellow Japanese players including Kei Nishikori, the rise of e-sports and more.

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How much do you enjoy video games?
I play a lot. I’m crazy. I play Nintendo Switch, which is very famous right now. I think also many players are playing Super Smash Bros. or Mario Kart. We are playing with Kei [Nishikori] or other Japanese players like Yosuke Watanuki. We are playing together.

I bring the [gaming] laptop [on the road with me] and am using a mouse and a headset and I’m playing games.

Out of all the Japanese players, who is the best at video games?
Kei is pretty nice. Also in Mario Kart, he’s very good.

How important is it for you to have video games because you’re so busy with tennis, to do something fun that’s a little different?
It’s not that great to stay in the house or hotel playing video games four or five hours in a row or something. If you have a chance to go outside, I like to go outside, so I’m not playing every day. But if I have time, like an hour or two hours and have nothing to do, it’s good for spending time.

And also [if] you have friends who are playing the same games, [you] can have conversations with friends… I can forget about tennis between [matches], which I think is very important. If you think only about tennis all the time, like 24 hours, you’re just going to be very tired. You have to forget sometimes.

We have to be fresh every day, because every day we’re playing different players. We have to be thinking a different way every day. We have to forget [past] matches.

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When did you start playing video games, and what are some of the earliest games you remember playing?
I have a brother, we played the same games together. Pokemon we played many times, we battled each other. I think we were five or six years old when we started playing games. In Japan, games [are big].

Do you follow e-sports?
I do. I have some friends who own an e-sports team. I spoke to them a couple times, it sounds pretty interesting. If I have a chance, I want to try to do [e-sports] as well… I’m not that great, but I want to try to be better and I want to try to play in some tournaments or something.

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What do you think about e-sports and the big rise of e-sports athletes?
You’re not moving your body or not going to be crazy-tired like tennis [players]. It’s very different in a way, but I feel it’s [a sport]. I play Super Smash Bros. by Nintendo with a friend who plays professionally. I played a couple times and there is no chance to beat them.

I have sometimes a chance at the beginning, but he says, ‘Okay, I’ll figure out how you’re going to play’, and after playing a couple times there is no chance to beat him… It’s very, very difficult, I feel. That’s how I feel. I have a lot of respect for that for sure.

When you pack for a trip, do you always have to pack your Nintendo Switch? What else do you bring?
Yes, I always bring it. I bring the Switch and a gaming laptop. I need Internet, but if I have good Internet [I am set].

What is your setup like at home?
I started living in Japan when I was 18 years old. From 15 to 18 [I was in the] U.S. I started living just by myself, rented a house. I started living in my house at 18 years old. Now I’ve been living in Japan for eight years, I never bought a TV. So I don’t have a TV, but I have a monitor that is only used for streaming TV, Netflix, but also using it for games as well.

What is your personal top-three list of best games you’ve played?
It’s a lot of games! I spent crazy time playing Pokemon. Dragon Quest, which is a Japanese game. Also Spartan. I think No. 1 is Pokemon. No. 2 is Spartan. Maybe Dragon Quest, not sure for No. 3.

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Get To Know Emilio Nava: 10 Questions For The First-Time Challenger Champion

  • Posted: May 23, 2022

Get To Know Emilio Nava: 10 Questions For The First-Time Challenger Champion

#NextGenATP American reflects on maiden crown in Shymkent

While the world’s best have descended on Roland Garros for the second Grand Slam event of the year, one player is seizing the spotlight and turning heads on the ATP Challenger Tour. His name is Emilio Nava. The 20-year-old from Los Angeles, California, has certainly staked his claim as the latest #NextGenATP star to watch on the Challenger circuit.

On Friday, the American completed a dominant two-week stretch in Shymkent, Kazakhstan, following up a near-flawless run to his maiden title with a semi-final finish. He dropped just two sets in posting an 8-1 mark on the Kazakh clay. His reward? A shiny new career-high of No. 233 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. At 20 years and five months, Nava is the youngest American to win on clay in nearly four years.

It should come as no surprise that Nava is quickly finding his form on tour. A two-time junior Grand Slam finalist, at the 2019 Australian Open and 2019 US Open, he currently trains with World No. 6 Carlos Alcaraz at Juan Carlos Ferrero’s academy in Spain. And he has sporting success in his Mexican-American blood. Not only did his mother Xochitl feature on the WTA Tour, but his father Eduardo ran track professionally. Both competed for Mexico at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Nava

Nava, who ascends to 14th position in the Pepperstone ATP Race To Milan, spoke to ATPTour.com after a breakthrough two-week run in Shymkent…

Emilio, congrats on winning your first Challenger title. Can you describe your emotions? How did it feel after match point?
It was 6/3 in the tie-break and I looked towards my coach and said ‘I’m going for it’. I missed the first serve and I just said that. It was match point and I wouldn’t respect myself after, if I didn’t give it my all. It was a big second serve down the T and he missed it. It was a sense of relief after six days of battling for every point.

I was so proud. My grandpa actually died before the first round and it was really emotional. I just tried to motivate myself and I was super happy to do that for him. I talked to my dad and my mom and they told me to play for him, and that would make him happy. I just went out there and I think I did a good job of that.

It is always special to win your first title. And then you reached the semis the second week. How do you explain your success in Shymkent?
My last title I won, it was a 15k ITF event about a year ago. I knew going into the week, I’d have some chances, because I was feeling good and had a good training block. I was putting in some strong results and happy with my tennis. But you can’t get too high when you’re playing good and get too low when you’re playing bad. I tried to stay solid and I think I did a good job of that.

I knew I was playing high-level tennis and I wasn’t surprising myself, but I made sure I stayed true to my game. Stay aggressive, look to hit those winners, and I really based my strategy against the opponents based on how I wanted to play. Every match was a new challenge that I was super ready for.

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned stepping up to the Challenger level?
I’ve actually been thinking about that quite a bit. The most important thing is mentally being able to be there for every single point. Stay with it for every point, because if you lose your focus, the other guy sees that you’re not 100 per cent. I just make sure that I’m competing in every game, every point, every ball, and I think that showed last week. Imposing your will on your opponent. It’s an important mentality.

Obviously Ferrero and Alcaraz are focused on Roland Garros, but did they have any reaction to your win?
It was pretty cool. Juan Carlos watches most of my Challenger matches. He texts me after every single one. He’s super invested in my development, which is amazing. You don’t get too many World No. 1s who are behind your back. If I ever have any questions about anything, it’s just such an open relationship.

What’s your relationship like with Alcaraz? How does his success inspire you?
We’ve grown up together for the past few years, so we’re super close. He’s dangerous. It’s good to see that someone like that, after training with him a lot, can do it [on the ATP Tour]. It just motivates you, that you can do it too.

Nava

Last year, he won the Next Gen ATP Finals. Right now, you’re up to No. 14 [in the Pepperstone ATP Race To Milan]. Is that tournament on your radar?
I started the year not really thinking about it, but after I won this last week, it came to my mind. I’m still in the race. I have one more year. I checked my ranking and I’m in there. I’m a few points behind the next guys. I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s a sick tournament, because it’s so infused with the modern way of living. Good music, the lights, the way the court looks. It looks like a lot of fun.

Emilio, how did you get your start in tennis?
Me and my brothers grew up running track and also playing tennis. Running track was great, because it turned us into athletes. It gave us the endurance and to know more about our bodies and how to use it better. My dad always knew that we’d play tennis. The money can be better and you can become more recognizable. I started following my brothers, who are older than me.

I ran on the court when they were playing, picking up the balls, and then I started hitting with them. I always remember my brothers training and I’d be on the other side just slicing the ball back. Just having fun. I loved competing against them. Later, I started winning sectional tournaments and became the No. 1 junior in California. My mom was my coach until I was 17, and then I went to an academy in Los Angeles.

You have sporting success in your genes. Take us through your family history.
My mom played tennis when she grew up in Mexico. She has nine siblings and they played at the tennis court in their house, which my grandfather built for them. I used to visit when I was younger, but not since I can remember. Anyway, she played tennis professionally and was Top 300 on the WTA Tour. She played in the Olympics in Seoul in 1988 and that’s actually where she met my dad. He ran track for Mexico. They kept in contact and my dad ran again at the Olympics in 1992 in Barcelona.  He ran the 100-meter, 400-meter and the 4×100-meter relay. The University of Alabama recruited him and he and the relay team held the national record for many years.

[ATP pro] Ernesto Escobedo is my cousin. My mom and Ernesto’s father are siblings. And I always looked up to my brother Eduardo. He plays tennis at Wake Forest University and still wants to play professionally.

Who was your idol growing up?
David Ferrer was my favourite. I have a picture of him over my bed in my room. I was 17 and got a wild card into Acapulco in 2019 and my coach set up a hit with him. I was never happier in my life. It was 3-all in the first and he didn’t miss a ball for the rest of the set. There’s a click and those guys go up to the next gear and you have to match it. They all have one trait that makes them the greatest and that’s it.

Lastly, give us an idea of who Emilio is off the court. What’s your perfect day without tennis?
Wake up and go for a run and do some yoga. Eat a huge breakfast with some pancakes. Have a burger for lunch and then watch a football game. And just chill.

I’m a funny guy. I like cracking jokes and having fun. When I need to get serious, I’ll do that, but I’m outgoing and like getting to know different people.

ATP Challenger Tour 


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Day 2 Preview: Nadal & Djokovic Aim For Fast Start In Paris

  • Posted: May 22, 2022

Day 2 Preview: Nadal & Djokovic Aim For Fast Start In Paris

2015 champ Wawrinka faces home wild card Moutet

Rafael Nadal begins his bid for a 14th Roland Garros crown and two-time winner Novak Djokovic kicks off his title defence on Monday in Paris. The first-round action at the second Grand Slam of the season will also see Stan Wawrinka, Reilly Opelka and Cameron Norrie take to the clay.

ATPTour.com looks at some of the matches to watch on Day 2 in the French capital.

View Schedule | View Singles Draw

[5] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Jordan Thompson (AUS)

Nadal opens his campaign for a record-extending 14th title at Roland Garros with a second ATP Head2Head meeting against Australian Jordan Thompson. The Spaniard’s chronic foot injury impacted him in his defeat to Denis Shapovalov in Rome nine days ago, but the 35-year-old is not worried about it causing an issue as he chases a fourth title and second Grand Slam crown of 2022.

“It is something that I live with every day, so is nothing new for me and is not a big surprise,” said the Spaniard in his pre-tournament press conference. “I am here just to play tennis and to try to make the best result possible here in Roland Garros. If I don’t believe that this thing can happen, probably I would not be here.”

World No. 82 Thompson is 7-10 for the year, with his best run a quarter-final appearance on the hard courts in Dallas. The Australian, who has reached the second round in Paris twice in six main draw appearances, is searching for his second win on clay this year. A first-round win in Houston over Steven Diez is his only triumph on the surface in 2022.

Nadal and Thompson’s previous meeting also took place in the French capital, with the lefty running out a straight-sets winner at the 2020 Rolex Paris Masters. Can Nadal pass the Thompson test once again in Paris?

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[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN)

World No. 1 Djokovic was back to his resolute best in Rome as he stormed to a record-extending 38th ATP Masters 1000 crown in the Italian capital, his first title of 2022. The defending champion arrives at Roland Garros full of belief as he prepares to take on Yishihito Nishioka in the first round.

“I feel I am always in contention to fight for any Grand Slam trophy,” said Djokovic in his pre-tournament press conference as he attempts to draw level with Nadal’s 21-Grand Slam tally. “I believe in my own abilities to get far and to fight for one of the most prestigious trophies in the world of tennis.

“As a defending champion of course more so, to believe I can do it again. Reliving the memories from last year is something that obviously gives me goosebumps and motivation to try to replicate that.”

Djokovic’s first opponent, Nishioka, has won his opening match at Roland Garros in each of the past three years, including a four-set win over home favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2021. The World No. 99 is yet to win a tour-level main draw match on clay this year, however, and he has not won a set in two previous meetings with Djokovic, at the 2019 Davis Cup Finals and the 2020 Australian Open.

The pair follow Nadal and Thompson on Monday’s schedule for Court Phillipe Chatrier, the scene of Djokovic’s epic five-set comeback win over Stefanos Tsitsipas in last year’s championship match. The top seed is looking to extend an 81-15 winning record in Paris, where he also lifted the trophy in 2016. 

Stan Wawrinka (SUI) vs. [WC] Corentin Moutet (FRA)

Stan Wawrinka and home wild card Corentin Moutet clash on Court Suzanne Lenglen in a meeting between two of the Tour’s sublime shotmakers.

The 2015 champion Wawrinka notched his first tour-level wins in 15 months by beating Reilly Opelka and Laslo Djere in Rome, and he will be eager to build on that progress after returning from a foot injury. It is Moutet who leads the pair’s ATP Head2Head series, however, with the Frenchman claiming a three-set victory in their only previous meeting in the 2020 Doha semi-finals.

The 23-year-old lefty dropped outside the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in January, but on his day is capable of competing with the best on Tour. His clash with Wawrinka will be his first tour-level match on clay since he lost in the first round in Umag last July. The Frenchman will need to bring his best to stop Wawrinka at an event where the Swiss star holds a 44-15 match record.

Also In Action

Five Frenchmen besides Moutet also kick off their Roland Garros runs on Monday. The most experienced of them is former World No. 7 Richard Gasquet, who will hope to build on his run to the semi-finals in Geneva last week, which included a straight-sets win over Daniil Medvedev. The 35-year-old meets South African Lloyd Harris. Benoit Paire, the former World No. 18, will play Ilya Ivashka.

Cameron Norrie starts his campaign in Paris against French wild card Manuel Guinard. The 10th-seeded Briton has never been past the third round at Roland Garros, but arrives this week as a tour-level titlist on clay, having sealed his maiden crown on the surface in Lyon on Saturday.

Norrie’s countryman Daniel Evans, the 29th seed, is also in action as he faces off against Miami semi-finalist Francisco Cerundolo, while Indian Wells champion Taylor Fritz, the 13th seed, also plays an Argentine: qualifier Santiago Fa Rodriguez Taverna.

Fritz is one of seven Americans in action on Monday. That group also includes 17th seed Reilly Opelka, who faces Filip Krajinovic, and 27th seed Sebastian Korda, who will take on John Millman. Tommy Paul, the 30th seed, faces a tough clay-court examination when he meets Cristian Garin, whose five ATP Tour titles have all come on the surface.

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