Just when you thought tennis had the feel good story of the year, here comes another.

It seemed hard to top Roger Federer claiming his 18th grand slam at the Australian Open at the ripe old age of 35 - but it's looking very likely that his opponent in the Melbourne final is also about to turn back the clock and make tennis history.

Rafael Nadal is the clear favourite to win an astonishing 10th French Open title next month after a blistering start to the clay court season.

Yes, 10. Some of the great names of tennis like Agassi, Connors, McEnroe and Becker didn't even win 10 grand slams total in their careers let alone that amount at one single event.


Nadal will go into the French Open as the fourth seed but will be the heavy favourite following three straight titles on clay this season with victories at the Monte Carlo Masters, Barcelona Open and the Madrid Masters.

He's dropped just two sets in his 15-0 start to the clay court season and both of those were in the opening matches of tournaments.

Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka, the three players ranked above him in the world, are all struggling for form ahead of the French Open while Federer announced today that he won't make the tournament, deciding to rest up for the grass season and have a decent shot at an eighth Wimbledon title.

Nadal cruised past Djokovic in straight sets during a semifinal clash in Madrid over the weekend before beating Dominic Thiem in the final.

Thiem, who also met Nadal in the Monte Carlo final, may be his only decent threat in Paris but would go into any clash against the King of Clay as a strong underdog.

Nadal has 14 grand slam titles to his name, that last being at the 2014 French Open where he claimed his ninth title at Roland Garros. Following several injury layoffs he rolled back the clock to make the Australian Open in January in a classic match against Federer.

Nadal has a 72-2 record in Paris going back to the start of his first title campaign in 2005 when names like Agassi, Kuerten and Rusedski where all in the draw.

Last year he withdrew following his third round victory due to that old wrist injury, meaning he's only ever lost twice on the clay courts in Paris.

In 2009 he was shocked in the fourth round by Robin 'where are you now?' Soderling, the only defeat in the Spaniards amazing run of nine French Open titles in 10 years. His only other defeat was against Djokovic in the 2015 quarter-finals.

There's actually a decent chance that the year will start with Federer claiming the Australian Open, Nadal winning the French Open and Federer triumphant at Wimbledon - just like 2006 and 2007.

A 15th grand slam title would put Nadal clear into second place all-time in the Open era, one ahead of Pete Sampras and three behind Federer. He would also become the first men's player to win 10 titles at one grand slam event.

That would be some impressive reign.