'That makes Rafael Nadal more vulnerable', says former No. 1

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'That makes Rafael Nadal more vulnerable', says former No. 1

With the advent of the pandemic in 2020, many sensational changes have been brought to the world of tennis and one of the most important is certainly the absence of the general public. We have already seen in the New York bubble how surreal it was to play Grand Slam tournaments without an audience but at the same time the bubble showed that there are tennis players who suffer from this particular situation and others who like the possibility of playing without the pressure.

"that can lead the crowd. It's a different situation for the Spanish champion Rafael Nadal. John McEnroe has given his verdict on the Big Four before the French Open – and has claimed Novak Djokovic has a great chance of stopping Rafael Nadal equalling Roger Federer's record of Grand Slam titles.

McEnroe on Rafael Nadal

“I just think because of the situation, the world-wide pandemic, that makes him more vulnerable. I think Rafael Nadal is a player who likes to get some matches in under his belt and gets confidence from that so just because there’s been so little tennis, and then him choosing not to come to New York, obviously he has only played a couple of matches so that makes it more unpredictable" - John McEnroe explained.

"Presumably he would be less confident but he’s proven over and over in best of five sets at the French Open, that’s the toughest task of any player to beat him there so he’s still got that going for him.

I think Thiem could stay with him, I think the top guys could stay with him, Novak I think and Thiem" - he added. The defending champion is well aware of the task he faces as he seeks to equal Roger Federer's record of 20 Grand Slam singles titles at a tournament where the consensus "King of Clay" customarily feels most at home.

"Conditions here probably are the most difficult for me ever in Roland Garros for so many different facts," Nadal, seeded No. 2 behind Novak Djokovic, said in his pre-tournament meeting with reporters Friday. "The balls are completely different, super slow and heavy.

It's very cold. Slow conditions. Of course, the preparation has been less than usual [because of the coronavirus pandemic]. I'm just staying positive knowing that the conditions are not perfect for me -- maybe not perfect for others, either -- and [accepting] that I am going to need my best version to have a chance."