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Roland Garros Preview: Nadal Pursues Ninth Title

Paris, France

Djokovic© AFP/Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic has his sights set on claiming the Career Grand Slam at Roland Garros.

The 2014 Grand Slam circuit continues with Roland Garros. Here are the key men's storylines to watch for:

2014 ROLAND GARROS
This is the 47th tournament in the Open Era (since 1968) and 81st at Roland Garros since 1925 (tournament was not held from 1940-45 during World War). In 1925, the draw was opened to players outside of France. The French Championships started in 1891 and this is the 112th overall staging of the tournament.

There are two former champions in this year’s field – eight-time champ Rafael Nadal (2005-08, ’10-13) and 2009 winner Roger Federer. Nadal comes in as the No. 1 seed for the third time at Roland Garros (2009-4R, 2011-Winner) and ninth time overall in a Grand Slam tournament. He won titles as top seed at the Australian Open in ’09 and US Open in ’10.

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NADAL LOOKS FOR NINTH TITLE
World No. 1 Nadal attempts to win his ninth Roland Garros title in 10 years as he comes in with a 59-1 career record. Nadal’s only loss came on May 31, 2009 to Robin Soderling in the 4R. He is trying to become the first player to win five consecutive titles at Roland Garros. He’s won four in a row from 2005-08 and ’10-13. Bjorn Borg also won four consecutive titles from 1978-81.

Nadal comes into Roland Garros with three clay-court losses on the season for the first time in the past 10 years. The last time he lost three matches (14-3) on clay in a season came in 2004. In his previous eight Roland Garros titles, only twice Nadal lost in a tournament coming into Paris: ’11 Rome final (l. to Djokovic), ’07 Hamburg final (l. to Federer).

KING OF ROLAND GARROS
In 2012, Nadal passed six-time winner Bjorn Borg with the most titles in Roland Garros history (since 1925). Last year he won for the eighth time. Here are the players with three or more titles:

Player
No. (Years)
Rafael Nadal 8 (2005-08, ’10-13)
Bjorn Borg 6 (1974-75, ’78-81)
Henri Cochet 4 (1926, ’28, ’30, ’32)
Gustavo Kuerten 3 (1997, 2000-01)
Mats Wilander 3 (1982, ’85, ’88)
Ivan Lendl 3 (1984, ’86-87)
Rene Lacoste 3 (1925, ’27, ’29)

CLAY-COURT DOMINATOR
Nadal has the best career match record on clay in the Open Era with a 311-24 mark (.928) and he’s 44-7 in clay finals. In eight of the past 10 years he's won three European clay court titles coming into Roland Garros. Here's a year-by-year look at Nadal's clay court supremacy since 2005, compiling a 283-14 match record (.953):

Year
Clay W-L
Clay Finals
W-L
Going into Roland Garros*
2014
18-3
2-1
13-3
1 Title
2013
39-2
6-2
19-1
3 Titles
2012
23-1
4-0
16-1
3 Titles
2011
28-2
3-2
17-2
2 Titles
2010
22-0
4-0
15-0
3 Titles
2009
23-2
3-1
17-1
3 Titles
2008
24-1
4-0
15-1
3 Titles
2007
31-1
5-1
19-1
3 Titles
2006
26-0
4-0
17-0
3 Titles
2005
50-2
8-0
19-1
3 Titles
* April-May tournaments

TOUGH TO BEAT IN FIVE
Nadal has a sparkling 83-1 career record in best-of-five set matches on clay. His only loss came to Robin Soderling in the 4R in four sets in 2009. In fact, he’s been extended to five sets only four times in his career, defeating Guillermo Coria in the 2005 Rome final and Federer in the 2006 Rome final (both 7-6 in the fifth) along with John Isner here in the 1R in 2011 and Djokovic in the SF last year.

CAREER GRAND SLAM CLUB
World No. 2 Novak Djokovic will be making his 10th appearance at Roland Garros (36-9 record) and he’s looking to complete a career Grand Slam. In the past seven years, he’s reached the semi-finals or better five times with a runner-up showing two years ago (l. to Nadal). Five of his nine losses at Roland Garros have come to Nadal, including last year’s semi-final, in a dramatic 9-7 in the fifth set 4:37 marathon.

Djokovic is trying to become the eighth player to complete a career Grand Slam and join Nadal and Federer, who are both active members of the Career Grand Slam Club. Other players to accomplish the feat are: Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, and Andre Agassi.

Six players have won three of the four Slam tournament titles except Roland Garros: Arthur Ashe, Boris Becker, Jimmy Connors, Stefan Edberg, John Newcombe, and Pete Sampras.

NO. 1 RANKING UPDATE
Nadal has held No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings every week since Oct. 7, 2013 and he will be guaranteed his 34th and 35th consecutive weeks during Roland Garros (137 overall in career). Nadal must reach the semi-finals in order to have a chance to remain No. 1. Here are a few other scenarios:
- IF Djokovic wins the title or they both lose in the same round, the Serb will take over No. 1.
- IF they both lose by the semi-finals or earlier and Djokovic loses only one round before Nadal then he will be No. 1.

Here are the round-by-round point breakdowns:

 
Winner
Finalist
SF
QF
4R
3R
2R
1R
RN
12,500
11,700
11,220
10,860
10,680
10,590
10,545
10,510
ND
13,130
12,330
11,850
11,490
11,310
11,220
11,175
11,140

Note: Nadal, Djokovic or Federer have ranked No. 1 every week since Feb. 2, 2004 – Federer (302 weeks), Nadal (136, start of RG), Djokovic (101). The last time No. 1 changed hands after RG was June 7, 2010 when Nadal took over from Federer.

FEDERER GRAND SLAM STREAK
This will be Roger Federer’s record 58th consecutive Grand Slam tournament played. He broke the mark he shared with South African Wayne Ferreira at the Australian Open. Federer’s streak began at the 2000 Australian Open and he is the only player to compete in every Grand Slam singles draw in this century. Two other players in that draw (Haas, Hewitt) are also in this year’s Roland Garros draw. There are four other players with current streaks of 40-more consecutive Grand Slam tournaments played:

Rank
Player
Consecutive GS Tourn. Played
1
58 * (2000 US Open-2014 Roland Garros)
2
56 (1991 Aus. Open-2004 US Open)
3
54 (1983 Wimbledon-1996 US Open)
4
49* (2002 Roland Garros-2014 Roland Garros)
5
46 (1998 US Open-2010 Aus. Open)
46* (2003 Aust. Open-2014 Roland Garros)
7
44 (1997 Aus. Open-2007 US Open)
44* (2003 Wimbledon-2014 Roland Garros)
9
43* (2003 US Open-2014 Roland Garros)
10
41 (2001 Aust. Open-2012 Aus. Open)
Players competing at 2014 Roland Garros in bold
*denotes active streak including Roland Garros

ALL-TIME GRAND SLAM CHAMPIONS
Federer is the all-time Grand Slam titles leader and Nadal is No. 3:

Player
W-L
1
Roger Federer
17-7
2
Pete Sampras
14-4
3
Rafael Nadal
13-6
4
Roy Emerson
12-3
5
Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver
11-5

STAN THE MAN
World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka is 6-0 vs. Top 10 opponents this season (21-4 overall record) and he is one of three players (Nadal, Djokovic) with at least three titles on the ATP World Tour in 2014. The 29-year-old Swiss No. 1 captured his first Grand Slam crown at the Australian Open (d. Nadal) and he jumped from No. 8 to No. 3 on Jan. 27. He also won his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Monte-Carlo in April (d. Federer). He is the first to win his maiden Grand Slam and ATP Masters 1000 titles in a season since Nadal in 2005. Wawrinka is trying to become the first player to win Australian Open and Roland Garros titles in the same season since Jim Courier in 1992.

MAKE IT THE BIG SIX
With Wawrinka winning his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown in Monte-Carlo, he joined current and former Top 10 ranked players Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Lleyton Hewitt with at least one Grand Slam and Masters 1000 title in his career. Prior to Monte-Carlo, the Big Four of Nadal, Djokovic, Federer and Murray had claimed 28 of the past 29 Masters 1000 titles. Prior to the Australian Open, they had accounted for 34 of the previous 35 Grand Slam tournament titles (since ’05 Roland Garros) with the lone exception at the ‘09 US Open where Juan Martin del Potro won. During that stretch, Federer has 13 titles (of 17 career), Nadal 13, Djokovic six and Murray two.

FATHER FED OF FOUR
This will be the first Grand Slam tournament Federer will play since he and wife Mirka added twin boys to the family, Leo and Lenny (born on May 6). Federer played in Rome in his first tournament back and lost in the opening round (after bye) to Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in a third set tie-break after holding a match point.

Federer has compiled a consistent season with a 28-6 match record (6-3 vs. Top 10), winning his 78th career title in Dubai and reaching finals in Brisbane, Indian Wells and Monte-Carlo. Last season he came into Roland Garros with an 18-6 record (1-4 vs Top 10) and with one final. The 32-year-old Federer is the oldest Top 4 seed at RG since Agassi (33) was No. 2 in 2003. This is the first Slam tourn. Federer is playing as the No. 2 Swiss since 2000 US Open where Marc Rosset was No. 30, Federer 40.

YOUNG STARS IN TOP 50
There are six players age 24-under in Top 50 Emirates ATP Rankings:

ATP Ranking
Player
Age
No. 9
23y,4m
No. 10
24y,4m
No. 12
23y
No. 22
23y,5m
No. 32
23y,10m
No. 44
23y,7m

SIX PACK OF GRAND SLAM CHAMPIONS
Six of the seven active Grand Slam champions are in the main draw, led by 17-time overall winner Roger Federer, who won Roland Garros in 2009. They have combined to win 41 Grand Slam singles titles.

Player
Age
No.
Grand Slam Titles
Roger Federer
32
17
2003-07, ’09, ‘12 Wimbledon; 2004, ’06-07, ‘10 Aust. Open; 2004-08 US Open, 2009 Roland Garros
Rafael Nadal
28
13
2005-08, ’10-13 Roland Garros; 2008, ’10 Wimbledon; ’09 Aust. Open; ’10, ’13 USO
Novak Djokovic
26
6
2008, ’11-12-13 Aust. Open; 2011 Wimbledon; 2011 US Open
Lleyton Hewitt
33
2
2001 US Open, 2002 Wimbledon
Andy Murray
27
2
2012 US Open, 2013 Wimbledon
Stan Wawrinka
29
1
2014 Australian Open
Note: Juan Martin del Potro is out with a wrist injury (2009 US Open champion)

SLAM TITLE WINNERS IN THE BOX
While there are six active Grand Slam champions in the main draw, five retired Grand Slam title winners will be on the sidelines as coaches. They have accounted for 16 Grand Slam titles. Here are the former Slam winners as coaches:

Retired GS Winner
Coaching
GS Titles (Best RG Result)
Highest Ranking
6 (SF, ‘87, ‘89, ‘91)
No. 1
6 (R-up, 1989)
No. 1
2 (Winner, 1993-94)
No. 3
1 (Winner, 1989)
No. 2
1 (QF, 1990, ’92, ’94)
No. 2

Note: Petr Korda, who coaches Radek Stepanek, won ’98 AO and R-up at RG in ’92, will not be in Paris. This is the 25th anniversary of Chang’s title at the age of 17 (d. Sampras in 2R, No. 1 Lendl in 4R, No. 3 Edberg in F).

2014 CLAY-COURT WINNERS
There have been 11 different clay court winners in as many tournaments in the spring clay court circuit leading into Roland Garros. Overall this season there have been 12 different winners in 13 tournaments with Nadal the only two-time winner (Rio de Janeiro, Madrid). If Federico Delbonis does not win in Nice, this will be the first time since 2004 there are 11 different clay winners leading into Paris.

BRYANS CLOSING IN ON CENTURY MARK
World No. 1 Bob and Mike Bryan are closing in on 100 career titles on the ATP World Tour. They are attempting to capture their 99th title together in Paris (Mike has 100 overall, Bob 98). Their 24-match winning streak was snapped in the Madrid final (l. to Nestor-Zimonjic). Their career-best streak is 25 straight matches won last year. Since a runner-up in Memphis (l. to Butorac-Klaasen) in February, they have won titles in Delray Beach, Indian Wells, Miami, Houston and Monte-Carlo. They are the all-time leaders with 15 Grand Slam titles as a team, winning at least one title from 2005-13. They are two-time champions at Roland Garros (2003, 13) and three-time finalists (2005-06, ’12).

GRAND SLAM MATCH LEADERBOARD
Federer is the all-time match wins leader (265) in Grand Slam history while Nadal is No. 8 with 177 wins, Djokovic is No. 12 with 162 wins and Hewitt is tied-No. 15 with 144 wins. The later three all could move up during Roland Garros. Here is a look at the Top 20 match wins leaders coming into Paris:

Player
W-L
GS Titles
1
Roger Federer
265-42
17
2
Jimmy Connors
233-49
8
3
Andre Agassi
224-53
8
4
Ivan Lendl
222-49
8
5
Roy Emerson
217-48
12
6
Pete Sampras
203-38
14
7
Stefan Edberg
178-47
6
8
Rafael Nadal
177-24
13
Ken Rosewall
171-34
8
10
John McEnroe
167-38
7
11
Boris Becker
163-40
6
12
Novak Djokovic
162-31
6


2014 MATCH WINS LEADERS
Here are the Top 10 match wins leaders & on clay this season:

OVERALL
W-L
Titles
1
Rafael Nadal
34-6
3
2
Roger Federer
28-6
1
Marin Cilic
28-10
2
4
Kei Nishikori
27-5
2
Tomas Berdych
27-8
1
David Ferrer
27-10
1
7
Grigor Dimitrov
26-8
2
Fabio Fognini
26-11
1
9
Novak Djokovic
24-3
3
Ernests Gulbis
23-10
1

CLAY
W-L
Titles
1
Fabio Fognini
19-7
1
2
Rafael Nadal
18-3
2
3
David Ferrer
16-5
1
Santiago Giraldo
16-8
0
5
Grigor Dimitrov
13-3
1
Nicolas Almagro
13-7
0

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