Boris Becker: Rafael Nadal is the favorite to win the French Open

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Rafael Nadal, who reached the Australian Open final, last won the French Open in 2014. (AP)

Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are still the top two men’s players in the world, respectively, and Roger Federer won his 18th Grand Slam at the Australian Open last month.

But none of those players, in Boris Becker’s mind, are the favorites to win the French Open.

Rafael Nadal is the man to beat in Roland Garros.

It’s not such a bold pick from Becker, considering that Nadal has won eight of his first 10 matches in 2017 and reached the final of the Australian Open, falling just three games shy of his 15th major.

The Spaniard has also had unprecedented success in Paris, winning the French Open a record nine times. But the undisputed “King of Clay”—nobody has ever been better on that surface—hasn’t won the French Open since 2014. He looked brilliant during the clay season last year, winning titles in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, but a wrist injury forced him to pull out of Roland Garros ahead of this third-round match against Marcel Granollers. The year prior, he was ousted in the quarterfinals by Novak Djokovic.

Speaking of Djokovic, he’s the reigning champion at Roland Garros, but the world No. 2 hasn’t made it past the third round at two of the past three majors. Murray reached his first French Open final last year, but clay remains his weakest surface.

And Federer has admitted that if he’s going to win another Grand Slam in 2017, it will most likely be at Wimbledon or in New York.

Separating the sixth-ranked Nadal and the top two players are Stan Wawrinka—who won the French Open in 2015—Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori. Neither Raonic nor Nishikori have made it past the quarterfinals at the season’s second Slam.

Nadal withdrew from this week’s tournament in Rotterdam, citing a need to rest after an exhausting run in Melbourne. He’s next scheduled to play the 500-level Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco, which kicks off on Feb. 27. 

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