Nadal didn't have a great first week.
The stats show it was his worst at Paris in terms of percentage of points won in any of the last eight years, and maybe that's why he is still odds against at 2.04 to be the tournament winner and retain the trophy he's made his own. But it wasn't bad either, certainly comparable with previous years where he's started slowly then peaked when it mattered.
But that just makes it a big opportunity to cash in. Anybody with his record of serial success at a tournament, coupled with current form in a year in which he's already landed five titles (at Sao Paulo, Acapulco, Indian Wells, Barcelona and Rome), should be odds-on. He is injury free, and ought to comfortably justify a price of 1.6 to wipe away his quarter-final opponent Stanislas Wawrinka in three sets.
Defending champion Maria Sharapova is back in action on Wednesday, but she would presumably have pictured a different opponent in her quarter-final clash at the start of the tournament.
The Russian world number two has been in dazzling form thus far, progressing without dropping a single set and producing some solid tennis despite the windy conditions in the French capital.
She defeated American starlet Sloane Stephens last time out, and although the victory arrived in straight sets, she will be fully aware of the requirement to step her game up in the next round.
Sharapova hit more errors than winners over a match that lasted just under an hour and a half, which if she fails to improve on may force her into an uncomfortable afternoon's work against Jelena Jankovic.
The Serb has continued her great pre-tournament formon a surface that is well suited to her game, and having accounted for Sam Stosur's early exit will be eyeing another shock win.
Her section of the draw has really opened up as the tournament has progressed, and she made no mistake against Jamie Hampton in the last round, blasting her way to victory in just over an hour.
However, her head-to-head record with Sharapova doesn't make for pleasant viewing, having lost their last four meetings and trailing 7-1 overall.
Nevertheless, they have yet to meet on clay and Jankovic will hope to at least put Sharapova under real pressure to see how the champion reacts. These two have a tendency to go the distance, so it may well be tough work for the Russian.
Elsewhere, world number three Victoria Azarenka looks to be hitting form just at the right time as she clinched her most convincing win in Paris in the last round with a straight sets victory over Francesca Schiavone.
The Belarusian believes she now understands what it takes to improve on clay, and will be aiming to reach the semi-finals at Roland Garros for the first time in her career.
Having survived a scare in the third round against Alize Cornet, she appears to be growing in confidence, but will need another steely performance when she takes on Maria Kirilenko.
The 12th seed has demonstrated the type of consistency that has resulted in her hovering around the top 10 in the world.
She boasts a perfect record in the French capital of having not dropped a set thus far, but that will be put to the teston Wednesday as she hopes to overcome a barrier of having never gone beyond the quarterfinals of a major.
Kirilenko understands the challenge in front her, stating in her post-match press conference on Monday that her all-round game needs to be on point if she is to advance.
She has lost her last three meetings against Azarenka, but the pair have also never met on clay before. It promises to be another close encounter, but Azarenka should have enough to prevail.
- Back the three sets market in Sharapova-Jankovic @ 3.25
- Back over 19.5 games in Kirilenko-Azarenka @ 1.98
Milesey ( betfair )