By Martyn Herman
PARIS (Reuters) - The weather gods are conspiring against Rafa Nadal's hopes of winning a record-breaking eighth French Open title.
Thursday's rain at Roland Garros left the Spaniard kicking his heels in the locker room and he now faces the prospect of winning six matches in 10 days if he is to retain his title.
Fierce rival and top seed Novak Djokovic got lucky and thrashed Guido Pella in the second round between the showers on Thursday but Nadal, who faces Slovakia's Martin Klizan, has not played for four days.
It is not ideal, especially as Italy's dangerous claycourter Fabio Fognini is already through and waiting for defending champion Nadal having had an extra day's rest.
Klizan, who just missed out on being seeded, is a tall, powerful left-hander and an unknown quantity for Nadal who has never faced him before.
It should be a formality, but Germany's Daniel Brands proved on Monday that Nadal can be vulnerable before he starts firing on all cylinders at Roland Garros.
Friday's schedule is a packed one with the remaining, and unfinished, second round matches vying for court space with third round ties, the pick of which is second seed Roger Federer up against Frenchman Julien Benneteau.
Women's top seed Serena Williams is also in third round action on Friday against Romania's Sorana Cirstea while home fans will have plenty to cheer with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils and Marion Bartoli all on show courts.
Thankfully the dreadful weather that has afflicted the tournament so far is expected to ease from Friday, hopefully lighting the touchpaper for a tournament yet to come alive.
(Editing by Tony Goodson)