Nadal and Zverev

Nadal’s Winning Return Should Have Rest of French Open Field Worried

Any punter who stepped in to back Rafael Nadal for French Open glory a few weeks ago is probably feeling pretty good right now after he made a winning return to action in the Davis Cup at the weekend.

After being forced to retire from the Australian Open at the quarter-final stage on account of a thigh injury that had his camp concerned, Nadal drifted in the betting for the grand slam he has won on 10 previous occasions.

He missed the US spring hard-court season and his usual appearance in Acapulco, leading to concerns that he might not be fit for the clay-court campaign.

Nadal handed his fans a boost when he was a late entry into the Spain team for the Davis Cup clash with Germany, and he showed no signs of injury in beating Alexander Zverev in straight sets.

It was a thoroughly professional and polished display and will set Nadal up nicely for the Monte Carlo Masters later in April. That event will reveal far more about the world number one’s fitness, as it will be a week of tennis in stamina-sapping conditions – as opposed to a one-off match in the Davis Cup.

Still, Nadal took great confidence from his win over Zverev and is looking forward to returning to the tour later this month.

“It was never going to be easy so I’m very happy to get an important victory for me and the team,” Nadal said, per the ATP Tour’s official website. “I’m very happy with my level, the first set was fantastic in such an important match. It’s a great feeling and very unique to play here in front of my people. It was a great match for me in an unbelievable atmosphere.”

The uncertainty was focused on Nadal following the Australian Open, but in recent weeks other leading lights have been forced out of the French Open.

Roger Federer has elected to skip the clay season once again in order to focus on Wimbledon, Andy Murray is a confirmed absentee and a resurgent Juan Martin Del Potro is undecided on whether to play on a surface he finds puts a strain on his fragile body.

So with Nadal proving his fitness in helping Spain beat Germany in the Davis Cup, the 31-year-old looks well placed to defend his crown at Roland Garros.

He can be backed at 1.80 with 188BET for French Open success and if he powers on through the clay season towards Paris, it would unwise to field against Nadal.