A single victory divides Rafael Nadal from joining the exclusive club of players who have achieved at least 1000 hits on the ATP tour. After having won Roland Garros for the 13th time, the Spanish phenomenon will try to conquer the Masters 1000 in Paris-Bercy, where he reached only one final in the distant 2007.
The former world number 1 will make his debut on Wednesday before his compatriot Feliciano Lopez, a decidedly tough opponent on such a fast surface. In case of triumph, the Majorcan's path would become even more complicated, given the likely third round against Borna Coric.
The Croatian has looked in good shape in recent weeks, having reached the final in St Petersburg before putting Novak Djokovic in trouble in Vienna. Borna has also already defeated Nadal twice, respectively at the fast indoor Basel in 2014 and in Cincinnati two years later.
Speaking on the Tennis Channel, former Roger Federer's coach Paul Annacone explained how Coric would be the favorite in a potential match with Rafa.
Annacone on Rafael Nadal
“I think Lopez is a dangerous match-up but let’s not forget that Borna Coric is two and two with Rafael Nadal,” Paul Annacone said.
“And one of those wins is indoors at Basel. So if Coric and Nadal play, I’m leaning Coric. I’m calling it now guys”. The American thinks Rafael Nadal’s forehand relies too much on spin, which doesn't work all that well on indoor hardcourts.
“Its all about the RPMs on the forehand,” Annaconne continued. “Generally that forehand is not bouncing around like a super-ball indoors, and Rafa likes that. When he doesn’t have the ability to do that you can get first-strike in and back him a little bit and make him little bit more uncomfortable,” Annacone asserted.
Nevertheless, Paul Annacone still rates Rafael Nadal very highly in indoor conditions. “Look he’s still one of the best players in the world indoors, he’s one of the best in anything, even underwater, the guy can play,” Annacone said.
The Spaniard has never won the title at Paris-Bercy, but he has made at least the quarter-finals in all seven of his appearances. Nadal won’t be thinking about falling short in the past. The top seed will be fully focussed on trying to capture his third trophy of the season.
“That's part of the game. In some places you have more success and others a little bit less,” Nadal said. “It’s true that of course at the end of the year in the past I arrived sometimes very tired physically and sometimes mentally, too.
And at the same time on indoor courts I need to be fresh, I need to be in full condition. It’s probably the surface that I need to be playing better to try to have success”.