Home Tennis Preview: Nadal In Action, Zverev Faces Herbert Test At Roland Garros

Preview: Nadal In Action, Zverev Faces Herbert Test At Roland Garros

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Rafael Nadal has only lost one set in 15 second-round matches at Roland Garros. The 12-time champion will try to maintain that nearly flawless mark on Wednesday against American Mackenzie McDonald on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

The lefty beat Egor Gerasimov in straight sets in his opener. In his first Grand Slam since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Nadal is fully focussed on his tennis.

“The only thing that I can guarantee is I’m going to be here trying my best every single day fighting, and trying to give the people my best every single day,” Nadal said. “In some ways sport helps the people.”

McDonald suffered a torn proximal hamstring tendon in a doubles match at Roland Garros last year that required surgery, but the World No. 236 has since recovered. He earned his first main draw win at the clay-court Grand Slam on Monday against Canadian Steven Diez.

Nadal has only lost once against an opponent ranked as low as the American. World No. 690 Joachim Johansson defeated Nadal at 2006 Stockholm.

Alexander Zverev

The other men’s match on Court Philippe-Chatrier will be sixth seed Alexander Zverev against home hope Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

Zverev, the recent US Open finalist, won the pair’s only previous ATP Head2Head meeting four years ago at Roland Garros in four sets. But Herbert was victorious in all three of their meetings that were not at tour-level. Zverev will take confidence from an impressive straight-sets victory against Dennis Novak in the first round. He has also reached back-to-back quarter-finals in Paris. 

Third seed Dominic Thiem, who beat Zverev in the US Open final, will try to battle past 2017 Nitto ATP Finals competitor Jack Sock. The Austrian star leads their rivalry 3-1, with their most recent clash coming at the 2018 Rolex Paris Masters.

Sock is playing with nothing to lose, while Thiem is pursuing his second consecutive Grand Slam title at an event where he has reached back-to-back finals.

“I heard he’s pretty good on clay,” Sock said with deadpan humour of Thiem. “I heard he played all right a few weeks ago in New York. I think he’s being called the new king of clay after Nadal. He loves it here. Had some amazing results here. Probably playing the best tennis of his life or some of, winning his first Grand Slam a few weeks ago.”

Also in action will be 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka, who plays Rome quarter-finalist Dominik Koepfer. The Swiss is 43-14 at Roland Garros, while the German is making his main draw debut.

Twelfth seed Diego Schwartzman takes on Italian Lorenzo Giustino, who needed more than six hours across two days to defeat Corentin Moutet in the first round. Giustino’s countryman, reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner, will try to back up his upset of David Goffin when he faces home favourite Benjamin Bonzi.

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