French Open: Henman backs Nadal to mount Wimbledon title challenge

By Sports Desk June 05, 2022

Rafael Nadal can make it three grand slam titles out of three if his body holds up sufficiently well for Wimbledon, says Tim Henman.

After adding the French Open title to the Australian Open that he won in January, Nadal is halfway to a possible calendar grand slam of all four majors.

That was last achieved in men's singles in 1969, when Australian great Rod Laver carried off the full set.

Nadal received injections before every match at Roland Garros to effectively send his troublesome left foot to sleep and curb pain, and he will have radiofrequency treatment in a bid to ensure he can go in search of a third major title of the year at the All England Club.

The 36-year-old Spaniard hopes to be able to be in London when Wimbledon starts on June 27, and having won there in 2008 and 2010, he will believe in his chances of a third slam on grass.

Former world number four Henman told Eurosport: "If Nadal is healthy, which is a big challenge now with this foot injury, can he win Wimbledon? Absolutely. So I think that's incredibly exciting."

Nadal now has 14 French Opens among his 22 grand slams, a men's record, and is two clear of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic who share second place on the all-time majors list.

Federer might be finished as a force at the top level, although he appears ready to give it one more shot later in the year, while Djokovic will likely start as favourite for Wimbledon glory, regardless of Nadal's recent feats.

"In terms of who's going to end up with the most grand slams, a couple of years ago I would have said Djokovic, for sure," said Henman, a perennial British favourite at Wimbledon who reached four semi-finals there. He now sits on the board of the All England Club, the tournament hosts.

"Right now, with that little bit of distance, I think Nadal has got a great chance. It's going to be fascinating to see. You've got another opportunity in three weeks' time, so fingers crossed, I so hope Nadal can be there on grass."

Related items

  • Swiatek seals Italian Open hat-trick after soaring past Sabalenka Swiatek seals Italian Open hat-trick after soaring past Sabalenka

    Iga Swiatek stormed to her third Italian Open title following a dominant 6-2 6-3 victory over Aryna Sabalenka.

    The world number one took just under an hour-and-a-half to deny the world number two, and complete a hat-trick of triumphs in Rome.

    The pair were contesting a second final in as many events, with Swiatek saving three championship points before eventually prevailing in the Madrid Open showpiece a fortnight ago.

    However, it was one-way traffic this time around. The Pole converted two out of three break points as she controlled the opening set.

    Sabalenka was the last player to deny Swiatek in a WTA final, that coming at last year's Madrid Open.

    Although, the second seed was helpless as her opponent broke again in game seven of the second set, before wrapping up a fourth title of the season ahead of the French Open later this month.

    Data debrief

    Landing her third Italian Open title before turning 23, Swiatek is only the second player to achieve that feat after Gabriela Sabatini.

    In fact, at 22 years and 352 days old, she is the youngest player to win 10 WTA 1000 titles since the introduction of the format in 2009.

    The Pole also became the third player to triumph in Madrid and Rome during the same season, after Dinara Safina (2009) and Serena Williams (2013).

  • Jarry defeats Paul to set up Zverev showdown in Italian Open final Jarry defeats Paul to set up Zverev showdown in Italian Open final

    Nicolas Jarry defeated Tommy Paul in three sets on Friday to set up a showdown with Alexander Zverev in the Italian Open final.

    The men's world number 24 prevailed 6-3 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 in a little under three hours in Rome to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 final.

    Jarry earned the only break of serve in the eighth game of the opening set, but Paul - who dropped just one set in four matches en route to this stage - hit back in the second.

    Birthday boy Paul lost serve to trail 4-2 at one stage, but he produced one of the shots of the tournament at the ideal moment and soon dragged it back to 4-4.

    A gruelling set concluded with Paul taking the tie-break 7-3, but Jarry was unperturbed and won the deciding set with his fifth match point to see off Paul in a gruelling contest.

    Data Debrief: 

    Jarry is the third male Chilean in the Open Era to reach the singles final of the Italian Open after Marcelo Rios (1997-98) and Fernando Gonzalez (2007).

    The 28-year-old registered 13 aces against Paul to his opponent's seven and hit 35 winners to 19 in a deserved victory.

  • Zverev ends Tabilo's dream run to reach Italian Open final Zverev ends Tabilo's dream run to reach Italian Open final

    Alexander Zverev fought back from the brink to reach the Italian Open final on Friday, overcoming Alejandro Tabilo by a 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 scoreline in the last four.

    Zverev was punished for a slow start as Tabilo took the opener within 32 minutes, but the German fought back in a one-hour, 15-minute slog of a second set.

    The 2017 Italian Open champion put his foot down from 3-3 in the second-set tie-break, with Tabilo potentially feeling the effects of a fine run that included a last-32 upset of Novak Djokovic.

    Zverev upped the intensity in the final set and won a huge 94 per cent of points behind his first serve as his opponent wilted, the third seed reaching the Rome final for a third time. 

    Data Debrief: Zverev draws level with Becker

    Zverev will now face either Nicolas Jarry or Tommy Paul in Sunday's final, which will be his 11th at ATP 1000 Masters level.

    That tally pulls him level with Boris Becker for most such finals by a German player since the format's 1990 introduction.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.