Spain's player Rafael Nadal celebrates after defeating France's Gilles Simon during a Rome Masters Tennis match on May 14, 2014, at the Foro Italico in Rome. (AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO)
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Say it quietly but some chinks are appearing in the suit of armor Rafael Nadal usually wears on a clay court as the Spaniard sets his sights on a ninth French Open title.By his high standards the 28-year-old Spaniard has suffered a mediocre season on Europe's red dust courts so far and one or two players, chiefly Novak Djokovic, will arrive in Paris with genuine title hopes. Roland Garros remains a fortress for Nadal where he has suffered only one defeat since winning the title on his debut in 2005 .The scars build up over the years, however, and Nadal now looks more vulnerable to the kind of attacking onslaught the likes of Djokovic, Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka, Andy Murray when he is in the mood and Nishikori can unleash.Djokovic, who is closing in on Nadal in the ATP rankings, is also fighting fit after a wrist injury scare that forced him to miss the Madrid Masters this month.Murray, who has slipped to eighth in the rankings, will be hoping for a kind draw but could find himself up against Djokovic or Nadal in the quarterfinals.
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