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posted: 5/23/2018 7:00 AM

FRENCH OPEN '18: Nadal hitting fewer aces than 98 of top 100

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  • FILE - In this May 10, 2018, file photo, Rafael Nadal makes a return against Diego Schwartzman, of Argentina, at the Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Spain. Nadal will be competing in the French Open tennis tournament that begins on Sunday, May 27.

    FILE - In this May 10, 2018, file photo, Rafael Nadal makes a return against Diego Schwartzman, of Argentina, at the Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Spain. Nadal will be competing in the French Open tennis tournament that begins on Sunday, May 27.
    Associated Press

  • FILE - In this May 19, 2018, file photo, Germany's Alexander Zverev returns the ball to Croatia's Marin Cilic during their semifinal match at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome. Zverev will be competing in the French Open tennis tournament that begins on Sunday, May 27.

    FILE - In this May 19, 2018, file photo, Germany's Alexander Zverev returns the ball to Croatia's Marin Cilic during their semifinal match at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome. Zverev will be competing in the French Open tennis tournament that begins on Sunday, May 27.
    Associated Press

  • FILE - In this May 19, 2018, file photo, Croatia's Marin Cilic reacts after winning a point against Germany's Alexander Zverev during their semifinal match at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome. Cilic will be competing in the French Open tennis tournament that begins on Sunday, May 27.

    FILE - In this May 19, 2018, file photo, Croatia's Marin Cilic reacts after winning a point against Germany's Alexander Zverev during their semifinal match at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome. Cilic will be competing in the French Open tennis tournament that begins on Sunday, May 27.
    Associated Press

  • FILE - In this May 19, 2018, file photo, Serbia's Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Spain's Rafael Nadal during their semifinal match at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome. Djokovic will be competing in the French Open tennis tournament that begins on Sunday, May 27.

    FILE - In this May 19, 2018, file photo, Serbia's Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Spain's Rafael Nadal during their semifinal match at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome. Djokovic will be competing in the French Open tennis tournament that begins on Sunday, May 27.
    Associated Press

  • FILE - In this May 13, 2018, file photo, Dominic Thiem, of Austria, returns the ball to Alexander Zverev, of Germany, during the men's final of the Madrid Open Tennis tournament in Madrid, Spain. Thiem will be competing in the French Open tennis tournament that begins on Sunday, May 27.

    FILE - In this May 13, 2018, file photo, Dominic Thiem, of Austria, returns the ball to Alexander Zverev, of Germany, during the men's final of the Madrid Open Tennis tournament in Madrid, Spain. Thiem will be competing in the French Open tennis tournament that begins on Sunday, May 27.
    Associated Press

 
 

PARIS -- Men to watch at the French Open, where play begins Sunday:

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RAFAEL NADAL

Ranked: 1

Age: 31 (turns 32 on June 3)

Country: Spain

2018 Match Record: 23-2

2018 Singles Titles: 3

Career Singles Titles: 78

Major Titles: 16 - French Open ('05, '06, '07, '08, '10, '11, '12, '13, '14, '17), Wimbledon ('08, '10), U.S. Open ('10, '13, '17), Australian Open ('09)

Last 5 French Opens: '17-Won Championship, '16-3rd, '15-QF, '14-W, '13-W

Aces: Only one member of the top 100 averages fewer aces per match than Nadal's 1.7. ... Broke tour record by winning 50 sets in a row on one surface - clay, of course.

Topspin: Dominant again on the European clay circuit, with his 11th title in Monte Carlo, 11th in Barcelona and eighth in Rome. ... A big favorite to get No. 11 at Roland Garros, and rightfully so.

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ALEXANDER ZVEREV

Ranked: 3

Age: 21

Country: Germany

2018 Match Record: 30-8

2018 Singles Titles: 2

Career Singles Titles: 8

Major Titles: 0 - Best: 4th, Wimbledon ('17)

Last 5 French Opens: '17-1st, '16-3rd, '15-Did Not Play, '14-DNP, '13-DNP

Aces: Won 14 matches in a row on red clay, including title at Madrid Open, until loss to Nadal in Italian Open final. ... In Madrid, became the first man to win a clay title without being broken since stats were first kept in 1991.

Topspin: Talented as can be, the 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Zverev really should have made it past the fourth round of a major by now. This could be his turn to shine.

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MARIN CILIC

Ranked: 4

Age: 29

Country:

2018 Match Record: 18-8

2018 Singles Titles: 0

Career Singles Titles: 17

Major Titles: 1 - U.S. Open ('14)

Last 5 French Opens: '17-QF, '16-1st, '15-4th, '14-3rd, '13-3rd

Aces: Converting only 36 percent of the break points he earns in 2018, which puts him 60th on tour. Makes up for that by winning 86 percent of his service games, which is 10th-best.

Topspin: His big serve and big forehand don't get the same boost on clay that they do on faster surfaces, which is probably why the French Open is the only major tournament where he hasn't reached a final.

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DOMINIC THIEM

Ranked: 8

Age: 24

Country: Austria

2018 Match Record: 25-8

2018 Singles Titles: 1

Career Singles Titles: 9

Major Titles: 0 - Best: SF, French Open ('17, '16)

Last 5 French Opens: '17-SF, '16-SF, '15-2nd, '14-2nd, '13-DNP

Aces: Responsible for handing Nadal his past two losses on red clay, in the 2017 Rome quarterfinals and 2018 Madrid quarterfinals. ... Hasn't been past the fourth round at any major other than the French Open.

Topspin: Still deals with bouts of inconsistency, as evidenced by his opening-match loss at the Italian Open a week after his runner-up showing at Madrid.

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DAVID GOFFIN

Ranked: 9

Age: 27

Country: Belgium

2018 Match Record: 16-8

2018 Singles Titles: 0

Career Singles Titles: 4

Major Titles: 0 - Best: QF, French Open ('16), Australian Open ('17)

Last 5 French Opens: '17-3rd, '16-QF, '15-3rd, '14-1st, '13-1st

Aces: Winning 33 percent of his return games, which ranks No. 2 on tour this season, behind only Nadal. ... Just 5-foot-11 (1.80 meters), 150 pounds (68 kilograms).

Topspin: His 2017 French Open ended when he injured his right ankle by tripping on a tarp at the back of a court. ... Made his Grand Slam debut as a "lucky loser" at Roland Garros in 2012, reaching the fourth round before being eliminated by Roger Federer.

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NOVAK DJOKOVIC

Ranked: 22

Age: 31

Country: Serbia

2018 Match Record: 10-7

2018 Singles Titles: 0

Career Singles Titles: 68

Major Titles: 12 - French Open ('16), Australian Open ('08, '11, '12, '13, '15, '16), Wimbledon ('11, '14, '15), U.S. Open ('11, '15)

Last 5 French Opens: '17-QF, '16-W, '15-RU, '14-RU, '13-SF

Aces: Hasn't won a major trophy since collecting his fourth in a row at Roland Garros two years ago. ... His ranking is at its lowest point since 2006.

Topspin: Went through right arm problems and cycled through coaches, but after reuniting recently with Marian Vajda, seemed to have turned a corner recently.

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More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

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