Rafael Nadal will begin his French Open defense when he takes on Yannick Hanfmann in the first round on Monday.
The Spaniard is the clear favorite to win it all at Roland-Garros yet again. He has won an unprecedented 11 French Open titles in his career. The last of those came last year when he beat Dominic Thiem in the final. He will be the favorite yet again, though all has not been smooth sailing this time on clay. Nadal lost in the Monte-Carlo Masters in the semi-finals to Fabio Fognini in a tournament in which he has dominated in recent years.
He reached the semi-finals in Barcelona and Madrid, but could not go all the way. That changed in Rome. Nadal won the Italian Open by beating Novak Djokovic in the final. The win was a massive boost to his confidence ahead of the French Open. Djokovic will be his main rival, and defeating him in Rome will do Nadal a world of good ahead of Roland-Garros.
Nadal was impressive in Rome, as he dropped just one set in the whole tournament. The Spaniard has won 17 of the last 20 sets on his favored surface. His service is looking sharp as well, as are his customary forehands. He is in a strong position to win his third straight French Open title. Nadal reached the Australian Open final in January, where Djokovic beat him. He has not lost in the first round of the Grand Slam since the 2016 Australian Open.
He will come up against a relatively inexperienced player in Yannick Hanfmann. The German made it through the qualifiers to reach the first round. He did not drop a single set in those three qualifying games. This French Open will be his second ever Grand Slam appearance. Even though Hanfmann is aged 27, he has participated in just one Grand Slam as of now. That was the 2018 US Open, where he lost to Philipp Kohlschreiber in four sets.
His inexperience at this stage means that he is expected to pose little threat to Nadal. Hanfmann’s last main tour win came in April in Munich last year. Considering that, Nadal should be confident of denying the German his first Grand Slam win. Hanfmann is ranked 184 in the world, and the odds are heavily stacked against him.
He has been partially deaf since his childhood, which means that the huge Philippe Chatrier crowd won’t affect his nerves much. “A center court full of spectators doesn’t affect me,” he told Germany daily Bild in an interview.
Rafael Nadal vs Yannick Hanfmann Prediction
Nadal will be the heavy favorite to get the win and progress to the second round. He has lost just twice in 14 years at the French Open. A win in straight sets is likely for Nadal against Hanfmann. The German is new to this level, and the veteran Spaniard should have no trouble in getting the win.