Nadal exposes ‘major issue’ at Roland Garros

Former US Open champion Andy Roddick says he’d support a move to give extra weight to clay court performances when determining the seeds for Roland Garros.

Currently the seeds are based on the world rankings, resulting in the somewhat farcical situation of Rafael Nadal, the 13-time champion, being seeded third for this year’s tournament, one spot below Daniil Medvedev, who has lost in the first round on all four occasions he’s played in Paris.

Had Nadal been seeded second, it would have made it impossible for him to play world No.1 Novak Djokovic before the final. Instead, they’re projected to meet in the semi-finals.

“For what it’s worth I’d be totally supportive of weighted clay seeding for RG,” Roddick tweeted.

“As long as the grass season could add another week or two of scheduling/tournaments to make it apples to apples.”

Roddick has the support of Australian tennis legend Todd Woodbridge, who says the game has missed a big opportunity.

“This would have been an occasion where everybody could have agreed that the most sensible thing to do would be to have a clay-court adjusted ranking,” Woodbridge told Wide World of Sports.

“The rankings have not been consistent over the past 18 months because of COVID, we’ve had a number of systems in play, which is understandable given what’s happened.

“But it’s not the reality of what the seedings should be.

“We’ve ended up with Djokovic and Nadal in the same half of the draw, which is a shame because they’re the top two players in the world.”

Medvedev has played just three matches on clay this season, losing to Christian Garin in Madrid and Aslan Karatsev in Rome. His sole victory came against Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, ranked 49 in the world at the time.

The Russian, a finalist at this year’s Australian Open, admitted earlier this month that his game doesn’t suit clay. During his loss to Karatsev, he labelled the clay surface “rotten” and pleaded with tournament supervisor Gerry Armstrong to default him, saying, “I don’t want to be here.”

“Given the rhetoric that Daniil Medvedev has given us in the last month or so on clay, you would hardly expect him to reach the quarter-finals,” Woodbridge said.

“That’s a perfect example of why it would have been a great opportunity to adjust the seedings.

“You’d have Medvedev in the top eight seeds, but you wouldn’t have him in the top two, and that would have addressed the major issue of the men’s draw.”

Wimbledon used to regularly adjust the seedings based on grass court performance, a system that in 1996 saw Thomas Muster, ranked second in the world at the time, demoted to the number seven seed. Muster, a Roland Garros champion, never won a match at Wimbledon in his career.

“No-one ever had an issue with how Wimbeldon used a grass-court weighting for the seedings, and that seemed to be fairly efficient and got the job done,” Woodbridge said.

“They’ve eased away from that in recent years because grass courts have become so homogenised, so the results on grass don’t deviate from the norm as much.

“But this was an occasion when maybe the French federation would have loved to have made an adjustment, but given the contract they have with the ATP they’ve had to stick to the rankings.

“It’s disappointing for the fans, to not have Djokovic and Nadal as the potential final.”

Nadal will open his bid for a 14th title against Australia’s Alexei Popyrin. The two met earlier this month in Madrid, with Popyrin far from disgraced in the 6-3, 6-3 defeat.

Having recently hit a career high of 61 in the world rankings, the 21-year-old has nothing to lose against Nadal.

“When you’re a young player you look at the draw and hope for the best,” Woodbridge explained.

“But if you don’t get a good draw, you’d actually prefer to get one of the greats.

“It puts you on centre court, in front of the world, and you can really got out and test yourself.

“Alexei has had enough experience now to not be overawed by that. Now we’ll see if he’s learned from the Madrid match.”

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