With a 79-2 career record at Roland Garros and victories at three of the four clay lead-up tournaments he's played, it’s hard to bet against Rafael Nadal winning this year’s French Open for the 11th time.
But even with Roger Federer sitting out this year's tournament and Juan Martin del Potro an injury-filled question mark, there are players in the draw who have either done well at Roland Garros in the past, fared well against Nadal or have played well enough on clay this season to merit consideration as a challenger to the King of Clay.
We've come up with just five names.
Not only does Roland Garros bring out the best in Thiem—he’s reached his only two Grand Slam semifinals there, in each of the last two years—but he’s had by far the most success against Nadal on clay of late. In the last 24 months, Nadal is 45-2 on the surface, with both losses coming to Thiem, in straight sets: in the 2017 Rome quarterfinals, 6-4 6-3; and in the 2018 Madrid quarterfinals, 7-5, 6-3.
“A player like Dominic has a lot of potential,” Nadal said about the world No. 8 after their quarterfinal match in Madrid two weeks ago. “Whenever he plays really well, it’s very difficult to stop him.”
WATCH: Thiem topples Nadal in Madrid