Rafael Nadal will begin another bid for French Open title No. 14 when he takes the court on Monday for first-round action against Jordan Thompson. The winner will face either former champion Stan Wawrinka or Frenchman Corentin Moutet.
Here are my previews and picks for Day 2.
Jordan Thompson vs. (5) Rafael Nadal
The bad news for Nadal is that he did not win either Madrid or Rome and his recurring foot injury was a major problem at the latter. Of course, there is plenty of good news for him. Nadal is a 13-time champion of the French Open and is a ridiculous 105-3 lifetime in Paris. Perhaps even more important for his 2022 outlook is that by all accounts the 35-year-old Spaniard has looked good in pre-tournament practices, unbothered by the foot injury.
Nadal will get started on Monday, when the rest of a loaded top half of the draw is in action. A second meeting with Thompson will come after the Australian went down 6-1, 7-6(3) two years ago in Paris–at the indoor Masters 1000, not at Roland Garros. Thompson is not particularly adept on clay and his record on the red stuff this spring is a dreadful 1-3. Obviously the outcome of this match and Nadal’s tournament as a whole depends on the status of his foot, but if he is close to 100 percent this should be a beatdown.
Pick: Nadal in 3
(PR) Stan Wawrinka vs. (WC) Corentin Moutet
After missing the French Open in 2021–and almost all of last season–Wawrinka is back from a foot injury. The 2015 champion warmed up for Roland Garros with a trio of clay-court tournaments, the most encouraging of which saw him advance to the Rome third round (beat Reilly Opelka and Laslo Djere before losing to Novak Djokovic).
Up first for Wawrinka on Monday is Moutet, who won their only previous encounter 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 at the 2020 Doha event. Moutet is also struggling at the moment, having fallen to No. 139 in the rankings. The 23-year-old Frenchman has won five main-tour matches in 2022 but his clay-court swing has consisted of nothing more than two Challenger tournaments. Neither player inspires much confidence right now, but in what will likely be a close match it’s hard to see Wawrinka being physically fit enough to withstand five sets.
Pick: Moutet in 5
Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.