Murray struggles with illness on French Open eve

THE King of Clay is back but Rafael Nadal is far from certain to win an unprecedented 10th French Open title. At Wimbledon if it is slightly wet you don't even play the match.

Fortunately, though, he is back in top form as he starts his quest for a 10th title at Roland Garros. Zverev was the first man born in the 1990s to win a Masters 1000 title, the youngest champ since Djokovic about a decade ago.

With the French Open starting on Sunday, Murray doesn't have much time to rediscover his best form.

Should the likes of Nadal, Djokovic and Murray falter, then the much-hyped #NextGen, featuring the likes of Zverev and Thiem could profit.

Since saluting at age 19 in 2005, Nadal proved to be the impediment to Federer and Novak Djokovic completing their Grand Slam sets. His groundstrokes and booming serve are of a great advantage and his offensive and defensive techniques are quite commendable.

He also dropped his opening matches at Indian Wells and Rome, the latter to local favourite Fabio Fognini, who recently became a father (his wife is former US Open champion Flavia Pennetta, who retired in 2015). But what I see on the court, I don't like.

"Maybe it plays in Andy's favour now that no-one talks about him at the French, maybe it gives him more comfort". And why is it taking so long for newcomers to make a mark?

Despite getting pummeled by Djokovic in the Rome semifinals, Thiem continues to distinguish himself as one of the top clay-court players in the world.

Simona Halep, the 2014 runner-up in Paris and victor in Madrid this year before being a losing finalist in Rome, looks the most likely champion-in-waiting - just.

Among the factors considered for the slump - his is the worst start to a year by a world No. 1 since Pete Sampras' in 1999 - are a hangover from his stamina-sapping, 24-consecutive-win rise to claim top spot in the year-end rankings, elbow and shingles problems since, and being slightly undercooked for the clay.

The tournament will also see two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova making her comeback less than six months after she was stabbed during an attack at home in the Czech Republic. Lucas Pouille will be carrying the hopes of an entire nation on his shoulders, as fans hope he replicates what Yannick Noah did in 1983. Often referred to as the bad boy of tennis, Kyrgios is considered one of the naturally-gifted players of the era.

She'd be a popular champion as would be Juan Martin del Potro, the giant Argentine whose huge potential, illustrated by his 2009 US Open victory, should have been the first chapter in a Grand Slam success story.

Six-times major victor Becker, the former coach of Djokovic, has kept a close eye on Murray's season and is mystified about what has gone wrong for the 30-year-old.

But while Novak Djokovic has looked to be improving and Rafael Nadal has been mightily impressive, Murray has not been the only player to disappoint.

The Australian lad played just 23 matches this season where he triumphed in 18 of them but is yet to win a title in 2017.

"But another early loss, this time at the French Open, would not be good for him". The Australian lad will definitely be hoping to add the French Open cup to his trophy cabinet.

Vanessa Coleman

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