Thiem to be French Open favorite after Nadal retirement, says Rio Open head

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Thiem to be French Open favorite after Nadal retirement, says Rio Open head

Dominic Thiem headlines the 2019 Rio Open field. The Brazilian tournament takes place from 18th to 24th of February next year and the Austrian looks forward to defending the title. In an exclusive interview with Tennis World USA, the Tournament Director Luiz Carvalho praised Thiem. 'He is definitely the best clay-court player after (Rafael) Nadal.

There is no question about it. He has won most matches out of everyone this year on clay, he has an unbelievable record. It's difficult to say how many French Open titles he can win, but he can definitely win one. Until Rafa keeps winning it will be difficult, but once Nadal stops, he will become the favourite at the Roland Garros.

And then who knows: in my opinion the Roland Garros is the toughest Grand Slam, it's so physical and mental, on clay points and matches are much longer. It will be interesting, I hope he can win it in 2019.' Kei Nishikori feels excited about the 2019 season.

Late this month the Japanese player will fly to Brisbane to play the ATP 250 event where he achieved his best result in 2017 losing to Grigor Dimitrov in the semifinals. Meeting the press in Tokyo on Monday, speaking about what he can do better, Nishikori said: 'Beyond playing an aggressive tennis, I want to improve the toughness and reduce the weakpoints in the off-season.' Nishikori also confirmed he will keep the same team as now, working with Michael Chang also next year.

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