Talking Tennis with Tracy: Rafa's best Roland Garros achievement

1. Rafa's ranking

It's already strange to see a double-digit ranking (No. 14) next to Nadal's name. Until this March, the Spaniard wasn't ranked outside the ATP Top 10 since April 2005by far the longest sustained run of excellence in tour history.

But when 2,000 more points drop off after Roland Garros—not to mention all of the points the Spaniard has been unable to collect this clay-court season—he will fall outside of the Top 100.

It will be a shocking sight, but it goes beyond that, writes the New York Times' Christopher Clarey and Matthew Futterman:

He will experience a calamitous drop in the world rankings unlike anything he has been through during the past two decades...While he will still be able to gain entry into any tournament by requesting a wild card, depending on how long he is sidelined and whether his ranking will qualify for protection, he may not be seeded and is likely to face top players far earlier than he usually would.


2. A foreign French Open

A lot was made of this year's upcoming Rome final after Novak Djokovic's quarterfinal loss to Holger Rune: it will be the first time since 2004 that neither Djokovic nor Nadal will compete for the title at the Foro Italico.


With Nadal's announcement on Thursday, the French Open will have a decidedly different feel. Rafa won't be playing, of course, andneither will his buddy and rival, Roger Federer. Taken together, it means that this will be the first Roland Garros since 1998—25 years—without either Rafa or Roger in the draw.

Dominic Thiem will get another shot at a French Open title—and this time, Rafael Nadal won't be in his way.

Dominic Thiem will get another shot at a French Open title—and this time, Rafael Nadal won't be in his way.


3. One door closes; another opens—for Thiem

Nadal's withdrawal meant someone outside of the main draw got a ticket into the tournament. Lo and behold, it's a two-time runner-up: Dominic Thiem. The Austrian lost the 2018 and 2019 French Open finals to—you guessed it—Nadal.

American Michael Mmoh is now next on the list of main-draw recipients, should someone currently in the draw similarly become unable to compete.

And speaking of Americans...

4. Break up the Americans on clay

Of the Top 16 projected men's seeds for Roland Garros, three will be from the United States:

  • Taylor Fritz, currently No. 9
  • Frances Tiafoe, currently No. 12
  • Tommy Paul, currently No. 17

Just gonna leave this here:


5. Last but not least: the gambling markets

While betting odds for title contenders like Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz likely had a Nadal withdrawal built in, the certainly of his absence means the odds accurately reflect a Rafa-less Roland Garros. A few days ago, Alcaraz was +125 to win the tournament; per FanDuel, he's now actually at +130.


Here's how the tournament's top picks are being handicapped (as of noon EST, 5/18/23):

  • Carlos Alcaraz: +130
  • Novak Djokovic: +190
  • Holger Rune: +850
  • Stefanos Tsitsipas: +1000
  • Jannik Sinner: +1400
  • Casper Ruud: +1800
  • Daniil Medvedev: +2400
  • Andrey Rublev: +3700
  • Alexander Zverev: +3700
  • Dominic Thiem: +8000