|French Open 2014|
|Rafael Nadal  (ESP)||vs||Robby Ginepri (USA)|
ScheduleMonday, 26 May 2014 at 08:00 GMT / 09:00 UK / 13:30 IST
VenueCourt Philippe Chatrier, Roland Garros
French Open champion Rafael Nadal will meet American veteran and wildcard Robby Ginepri in his opening round clash at Roland Garros.
Nadal's had a scratchy few months by his standards. Finals losses at Rome, Miami and Melbourne (Australian Open), and earlier than anticipated departures at Barcelona, Monte Carlo and Indian Wells have been offset by tournament victories at Doha, Rio De Janeiro and Madrid.
Rafa is the defending champion, and by everyone's standards is still the man to beat. He'll be gunning for his ninth title in Paris, and only a betting man would likely bet against the King of Clay, considering his record there is 59 and 1, his sole defeat to Swede Robin Soderling back in 2009.
Worryingly for Nadal, his lead up form on his favourite clay surface is far from ideal. Should he be worried? Losses to Spanish rivals Nicolas Almagro (Barcelona), David Ferrer (Monte Carlo), plus Novak Djokovic in the Rome final suggests that there are signs that his invincibility on clay maybe on the wane.
However, there is a huge incentive for him to take out a ninth French Open crown, and to further enhance his standing in the men's game. It won't be easy however, as many top players will become obstacles when it gets down to the busy end of the tournament.
On the other side of the net stands Robby Ginepri. He's been out of the top tier for a while now. His current ranking is 279 (as at 25th May 2014). Ginepri's highest ranking got to 15. This was achieved in 2005 which was his break-through year.
Ginepri has won three ATP titles previously, while his best achievement at the French Open was in reaching the fourth round. In 2008, losing to Chilean Fernando Gonzalez in three. In 2010, losing to Novak Djokovic in four, after defeating seeded players Sam Querry (18) and Juan Carlos Fererro (16) earlier in the draw.
Lately, Ginepri has been playing on the U.S Challenger circuit, defeating Canadian Frank Dancevic (#121) in the final of the Tallahassee Challenger back in the first week of May. Ginepri received a wildcard into the French Open draw on the back of strong performances at ATP Challenger events at Sarasota, Tallahassee and Savannah. In preparation for the French Open, He lost in qualifying to Croatian Mate Pavic at the Open de Nice Côte d’Azur just last week.
In the head-to-head match ups, Nadal and Ginepri have met once before. Way back in 2005 at the Madrid Masters, where Nadal prevailed in a tight semi-final contest: 7-5, 7-6 (1). Nadal was top seed for that tournament, Ginepri seeded 16.
It would be hard to see Ginepri getting one over the eight time champion Nadal. Robby has had numerous injuries, but credit to him for returning to Roland Garros, which in all likelihood, will be his last appearance there.