Rafael Nadal made the Roland Garros debut in 2005, just before turning 18. Struggling with injuries and skipping his favorite Major in 2003 and 2004, the youngster arrived in Paris as the favorite in 2005 following titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome.
Rafa proved that on the court and lifted the first Major crown after beating Roger Federer and Mariano Puerta, starting his incredible Roland Garros journey that still stands in its full glory. Nadal has been the dominant figure in Paris for 15 years, winning jaw-dropping 13 titles and suffering two losses to Robin Soderling and Novak Djokovic in 2009 and 2015.
With 100 victories from 102 encounters, the Spaniard has written record books in Paris, embracing a dominant run that will never be repeated at any Major. Last October, Nadal had to deal with cold and rainy weather, new Willson balls and a roof above Court Philippe-Chatrier, passing all those obstacles and beating all seven opponents in straight sets to secure the 20th Major crown and the 13th at Roland Garros.
Rafa defeated Jannik Sinner, Diego Schwartzman and Novak Djokovic in the last three matches, standing above all the rivals and joining Roger Federer at the top of the GOAT race. Things are not looking that bright for the Spaniard this spring, winning the title in Barcelona following that thrilling final against Stefanos Tsitsipas and losing in the quarters in Monte Carlo and Madrid.
Alexander Zverev spoke about Rafael Nadal and the upcoming Roland Garros.
Andrey Rublev and Alexander Zverev beat Rafa at those two Masters 1000 events, and Zverev is hungry for more in Paris, mentioning the players who can beat Rafa on his sacred court.
Still, the German understands how tough it is to topple the Spaniard at Roland Garros, declaring Rafa is still the favorite but feeling confident about his main rivals' chances this June. "Rafael Nadal is still the Roland Garros favorite; that hasn't changed.
You have to beat him to get the trophy, which is never easy in Paris. The chance for him is relatively great, and our job is to prevent that from happening. Novak, Dominic, Stefanos, Andrey and me can challenge him," Alexander Zverev said.