French Open 2017: King of Clay Nadal ready to reign again at Roland Garros

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Just a month after a new French President was inaugurated it could be time for the 'King of Clay' Rafael Nadal to reign at Roland Garros for a record 10th time.

There seems to have been more talk about who will not be playing in the second grand slam of the year than those who will grace the famous clay courts.

Maria Sharapova was not invited to play after recently returning from a 15-month ban for failing a drugs test at the Australian Open last year.

While the five-time grand slam champion was denied a wildcard, Roger Federer will not be in Paris of his own accord, opting to skip the clay-court season in order to prepare for challenges to come on the grass and hard surfaces.

Serena Williams will also be a notable absentee, having announced in April that she is expecting her first child.

Despite the absence of three of the most high-profile players in the sport, there will be no shortage of intriguing subplots at the prestigious tournament.

As Emmanuel Macron gets his feet under the table and leads France in a new era, there is every chance that going back to the future will be the narrative at Roland Garros.

Nadal has ruled supreme on the red stuff time and time again over the years, but the Spanish great has gone three years without adding to his tally of 14 major titles.

Injuries and a loss of form have prevented the 30-year-old Mallorca native from being at the peak of his powers since then, yet normal service has been resumed this year.

Nadal and Federer rolled back the years to reach the final of the Australian Open, where it was the legendary Swiss who prevailed in an absorbing showdown.

Since the clay-court swing got under way Nadal has been imperious, winning titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid before Dominic Thiem - one to watch in Paris - ended his perfect record this year on his favourite surface in Rome.

After being written off in certain quarters following a fall from grace, Nadal will start as favourite in his attempt to become the first player to win the same grand slam 10 times in the Open Era. It would be no surprise to see the resurgent left-hander lift the Coupe des Mousquetaires yet again on Court Philippe Chatrier.

It was Novak Djokovic who took centre stage in 2016, ending his long wait for an elusive first French Open title to complete a career Grand Slam.

The Serbian held all four major crowns when he completed the set last June, but will not have any in his grasp if he falls short in Paris.

Appointing Andre Agassi as coach may just provide the impetus Djokovic has been lacking, while Andy Murray heads into the tournament in poor form and it would take a huge turnaround for the world number one to take his first French Open title after losing in the final last year.

Garbine Muguruza experienced her finest hour when she took the women's title last year, but it is anybody's guess who will have the honour of getting their hands on the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen this time around.

The affable Spaniard has failed to win a title since her triumph in Paris last year and has been troubled by a neck injury.

Williams' absence ensured there is no strong favourite and there are doubts over whether the in-form Simona Halep will play due to an ankle ligament injury. 

Much like Murray, the top-ranked Angelique Kerber has failed to hit the heights of last year and is the first to admit she is not at home on clay.

Elina Svitolina beat Halep in Rome to take her second title on clay in 2017 and headed to the French capital with a spring in her step.

Petra Kvitova can expect plenty of support if she makes her comeback ahead of schedule, just five months after the two-time Wimbledon champion was stabbed by an intruder in her apartment. 

Expect the unexpected, but there will not be too many eyebrows raised if we see another Nadal coronation.