For the first time since Rafael Nadal’s victorious debut at Roland Garros in 2005, successive editions of the French Open are going to pass without the nine-time champion taking the men’s singles title following his withdrawal with a wrist injury.
Normally, that would mark the end of Spain’s hopes of supplying a winner: no other Spanish man has claimed Grand Slam singles glory since Juan Carlos Ferrero in 2003, while their last female to reign was Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in 1998.
The landscape is changing though as this year six of Nadal’s compatriots are still going strong heading into the second Monday. Let’s explore how each are shaping up:
The 14th seed has got this far without dropping a set, but he has never gone beyond the fourth round of a Grand Slam, exiting at this stage in each of the last three, and that is likely to continue against the as-yet-untested tournament favourite Novak Djokovic, who he is a 13/1 outsider to eliminate.
This is the first Grand Slam in over six years where the 34-year-old hasn’t been a top-ten seed, perhaps hinting that time is running out and he may be destined to finish his career as a six-time Grand Slam finalist or semi-finalist but nought-time winner. This is typically his best major, and he has performed well to date in the latest instalment, yet he needs to get past Tomas Berdych and Djokovic just to reach the semi-finals. Clearing the first of those hurdles is a 39/50 shot.
Granollers was the one to profit from Nadal’s withdrawal, gifting him a third-round walkover, and his second-round contest was cut short too by Nicolas Mahut’s retirement, so all much will depend on whether that lack of action leaves him fresher than his foes or less prepared. His quarter of the draw is the most open, devoid of any top-ten seeds, though he isn’t expected to be the beneficiary, being rated a 23/4 outsider to overcome the emerging Austrian star Dominic Thiem in the fourth round.
Ramos-Vinolas was the first Spaniard to secure a quarter-final berth and in spectacular fashion, tearing down eighth seed Milos Raonic for the loss of only ten games. Indeed, he has been a crusher of North American dreams thus far having removed Jack Sock in five sets a round earlier. Stanislas Wawrinka awaits next, but that prospect shouldn’t unnerve the 28-year-old – who is three rounds deeper than he has ever been in a Slam before. The holder has yet to reprise last year’s form, dropping three sets already and being taken to tiebreaks in two others.
Carla Suarez Navarro
Even though Suarez Navarro is established as one of the top 16 WTA singles stars and this is her best Grand Slam, she has been to the quarter-finals just once this decade and may again fall short against Yulia Putintseva. The Kazakhstani is enjoying a breakout year, reaching the third round in Australia and getting to the fourth at Roland Garros while surrendering a mere eight games, so looks attractively priced at 7/4 to dismiss the 12th seed.
Few would dispute that the Venezuelan-born 22-year-old offers Spain’s greatest chance of French Open success. She is their highest-surviving seed in either competition (four), she has the pedigree having been to the quarters in 2014 and 2015 and followed that with a run to the Wimbledon final, she has the momentum – winning eight straight sets after an initial struggle against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, and she has the draw, with surprise quarter-finalist Shelby Rogers her next opponent.