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May 2022

May will see the European clay court swing continue, with the highlights being Masters events in Madrid and Rome for both men and women, and the start of the second Grand Slam event, the French Open.

Nadal comeback at home

After the conclusion of this week’s ATP250 events in Estoril, Portugal, and Munich, Germany, the focus turns to next week’s Madrid Masters. Rafael Nadal hasn’t played on clay yet this year due to injury, but he will return here in the Spanish capital. Novak Djokovic is the top seed here, and 2nd seed Alex Zverev is the defending champion.

Monte Carlo winner Stefanos Tsitsipas misses the event. There are wildcards for former champion Andy Murray, young Brit Jack Draper, Lucas Pouille and 20-year-old Spaniard Carlos Gimeno Valero.

Nadal will also be hoping to defend his title the week after in Rome, where Tsitsipas is expected to return. Wildcards are yet to be announced. There are also ATP250 events in Geneva, Switzerland, and Lyon, France.

The women’s tournament has already started, without world number 1 Iga Swiatek due to injury. Spaniard Paula Badosa is the highest seed, and after winning her First Round, already has a challenging Second Round match against Simona Halep up next.

Aryna Sabalenka will be attempting to defend her title. Swiatek is expected to return in Rome to defend her title. There are also WTA250 events in Rabat, Morocco, and Strasbourg, France.

Roland Garros – Potentially an open men’s draw?

One of the great sporting achievements is Nadal’s record of 13 titles here, but he was unable to win it last year, as he lost to an inspired Djokovic in the Semi Finals. With the Spaniard returning from injury and having missed a decent chunk of the clay swing, maybe his chances of lifting the trophy are lower than usual?

Defending champion Djokovic has also had his problems recently, having been unable to play many events this year due to vaccination requirements. He only has a few weeks left to discover his top form and regain match fitness. Could we see a new champion this year, in the form of Tsitsipas (who reached the final last year) or Alcaraz?

Can Dominic Thiem, who is yet to win a match this year after recently coming back from injury, regain the form that saw him reach the final twice here in previous years? 

One certainty is that French tennis legend, former world number 5 and two-time Masters champion, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, will play his final match here, having recently announced his retirement. He will also play the event in Lyon, and will retire as one of three men to have Grand Slam wins against all of the Big Four (the other two being Tomas Berdych and Stan Wawrinka).

Swiatek won her maiden Grand Slam title here in 2020, and is the favourite to win it again this year. Barbora Krejcikova is the defending champion, and the event has been won by eight different women in the last eight years, from eight different countries.

Other former champions playing this year include Jelena Ostapenko and Simona Halep, and other Grand Slam champions such as Emma Raducanu, Garbiñe Muguruza and Sofia Kenin also feature. This will be Raducanu’s first appearance at the event.

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