With the second Grand Slam of the year on the horizon, the world’s top players are gearing up for the battle on clay in Paris……but can anyone end Rafael Nadal’s winning run at Roland Garros?
The Spaniard has won six of the last seven French Open titles and will be the hot favourite again in 2012, as the left-hander goes for a third consecutive victory.
We look at the possible contenders to Nadal’s title, with five potential challengers for the clay-court crown…..
1) Roger Federer
The Swiss ace proved the doubters wrong by reaching the French Open final last year and looks like he has another Grand Slam title in him. Federer is the only other player to win the Roland Garros title during Nadal’s dominant period, winning the trophy in 2009.
Last year’s runner-up took a set off Nadal in the 2011 final and still looks the most likely man to upset the odds.
2) Novak Djokovic
The world number one has had the edge over Nadal in the last 18 months, but is still very much behind the Spaniard on clay.
Djokovic, who lost to Federer in the semis last year, may fancy his chances of forcing errors from Nadal should he get to the Paris final for the first time.
3) Andy Murray
The British number one reached the last four in every Grand Slam in 2011, but was comfortably beaten by Nadal at Roland Garros.
Murray has learned from another close thing last year and will be a tougher nut to crack, should he make the semi-finals again.
4) Robin Soderling
The Swede was the last player to beat Nadal in Paris, defeating the left-hander in the fourth round in 2009 before going on to lose to Federer in the final.
Soderling also lost to Nadal in the 2010 final, but has struggled for fitness since then. The world number 23 is still dangerous despite his slip down the rankings.
5) Tomas Berdych
Berdych has already impressed on clay this year, reaching the semi-finals in Monte Carlo and defeating Andy Murray on the way.
The downside for the world number seven is that he has lost his last 10 matches to Nadal and all three of the pairs meetings on clay.