Woman tennis star Cocoa Gauff has made a statement that Rafael Nadal cannot be underestimated under any circumstances, even if he goes into Roland Garros without playing a single match on clay.
The American tennis star feels that it would be “foolish” to write the Spaniard off ahead of the tournament.
“If he goes, I’m going to take him in Paris any day,” the American said. “I don’t think he needs match experience. I’m sure he probably would have preferred to play some matches before. I think that him and Roland Garros is something special,” she said.
The world number five admitted that she made the mistake of doubting the 22-time Grand Slam winner and she would not be doing it again.
“There’s been times, I remember last year, he was having that problem, completely lost that match, didn’t look like he was going to be ready at all. I made the mistake of doubting him, Cocoa said.
“Next thing you know, he pretty much stormed his way to the final and won straight sets. He’s just a GOAT in that way, a GOAT on clay, someone you can’t underestimate,” she added.
Despite the in-form Carlos Alcaraz and the world number one Novak Djokovic being hot favourites of the upcoming French Open, the 19-year-old admitted that the draw might be quite open this year.
“I think for the tournament, if he doesn’t play, obviously it would suck to have a player like him not play, but also I feel like the tour has a lot of – I think it will open it up for the guys, the men’s side. Then again, we haven’t seen him play in so long. So maybe the draw is open. I don’t know. But I definitely think he’s going to be a threat regardless if he plays or not,” she concluded.
It must be noted that Nadal, who has had his fair share of struggles with injuries throughout his career, had to skip the recently ended Madrid Open as he had some complications in his recent hip injury. The 36-year-old Spaniard has already missed major tournaments at Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo and Barcelona.