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Gauff: GOAT Nadal RG Favorite Any Day

By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Thursday, May 11, 2023

Roland Garros runner-up Coco Gauff is skilled in the sliding arts and believes you're tripping if you underestimate Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros.

Asked to assess the Roland Garros men's field in her Rome presser today, Gauff summed up her view simply.

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The world No. 4 says King of Clay Rafael Nadal is the French Open favorite any day—regardless of his recent lack of match play.

"I mean, if [Rafa] goes, I'm going to take him in Paris any day," Gauff 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.

"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. Next thing you know, he pretty much stormed his way to the final and won straight sets."

Fourteen-time Roland Garros champion Nadal withdrew from this week's Rome. Nadal, who has shared training video on social media as he continues recovery from a hip injury, has not played a match since falling to Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open in January.

Injury-induced inactivity does not deter Gauff from picking the "GOAT on clay" as French Open favorite.

"He's just a GOAT in that way, a GOAT on clay, someone you can't underestimate," Gauff said.

"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... 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 [before Paris] or not."

Photo credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty