John McEnroe slams treatment of Rafael Nadal by French Open

Nadal had the worst possible matchup in the first round of the French Open and McEnroe let his feelings known about the issue.
John McEnroe sounds off about Rafael Nadal
John McEnroe sounds off about Rafael Nadal / Mateo Villalba/GettyImages

Rafael Nadal entered the French Open unseeded and because of that, he knew he was likely to draw a high seed in the first round. Nadal could have drawn Novak Djokovic and probably had a better chance of winning than he did against Alexander Zverev. Zverev defeated Nadal in straight sets, though Nadal played well.

Tournaments can seed players however they wish. Nadal hardly played in 2023 and did not have many rankings points at the beginning of 2024. He has not played enough this year to vault in the ATP rankings. He is currently ranked 275, and if he had not won so many Grand Slam tournaments, many might not have taken issue with his draw at Roland Garros.

The issue is that Nadal has won 22 Grand Slams. 14 of those came at the French Open where he is the best player ever. He is at least the most successful, though maybe Bjorn Borg in his prime might have caused issues for Nadal in his prime. That argument is moot, though, because tennis technology has changed so much.

Rafael Nadal was mistreated by the French Open, according the John McEnroe

The point is Nadal deserved better than facing Zverev in the first round and the French Open could have made that happen. No one would want to move the field around so that Nadal has an easier path to make a deep run at the event because the Spaniard would still need to earn his place in the semifinals, but not being bounced out of the first round would likely have been good for the sport.

Former ATP No. 1 turned excellent tennis commentator John McEnroe has strong feelings about Nadal's treatment at Roland Garros. He disagrees with what the French Open did. This was even before Nadal played Zverev.

McEnroe said in a press conference, "It makes no sense that someone who has won 14 times is not seeded. It is the way the tournament has always acted. For me, it is crazy. It is the most interesting first round of a Major that I remember and the most tough (in the) Open Era for someone like Nadal."

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Coco Gauff's coach, Brad Gilbert, took to social media to second McEnroe's remarks. Gilbert wrote on X/Twitter, "Didn’t see a lot of Vamos-Rafa match, definitely had chances in second set, still feel like he deserved to be seeded like 20th and could work way into tournament who knows about what the result could have been, just my two cents."

On a recent episode of the Lob and Smash podcast, guest host Todd Vandenberg offered a suggestion that could fix problems like the one the French Open had with Nadal's draw. Vandenberg said that maybe Grand Slams could see former winners based on how many times they had won versus years missed. In essence, Nadal would have started as the final seed - number 32 - moved up 14 spots to 18, but since he missed 2023, Nadal's true seed would be 19. The idea might be worth a chance at a tournament.

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