A slightly earlier than expected departure against a player Nadal had never fallen to in nine previous meetings in the Rome quarter-finals has piqued interest as to whether this will be someone else’s year.
Could world No.1 Novak Djokovic be poised to add a second Roland-Garros trophy or will Dominic Thiem become the first man in the Open Era to win their first two majors back-to-back?
Here are five men who bring form to Paris...
Dominic Thiem (AUT)
The newest Grand Slam champion has opted for a well-earned rest after landing the silverware in New York.
Following a dramatic finish in which he survived Alexander Zverev in a fifth-set tiebreak to emerge triumphant, Thiem sat out the two weeks of clay-court tournaments to hone his game in his own time.
It raises plenty of unknowns heading into what has traditionally been his strongest major and allows him to deflect favouritism at will.
“Nadal and Djokovic are also the absolute favourites in Paris,” he said in a post-US Open interview with Bild am Sonntag.
However, with the monkey lifted from his back after coming up short in two prior Roland-Garros finals and this year’s Australian Open decider, expect his confidence to be sky-high.