AS second homes go, Rafa Nadal’s place in Paris’ 16th arrondissement takes some beating. Ten times now, the Mallorcan has beaten all-comers to Stade Roland Garros to walk off with the French Open title. Yet any suggestion that he is content with his lot after completing La Decima is wide of the mark.

Judy Murray doesn’t like making predictions about the outcome of Grand Slam tournaments, at least not until she has seen which players are in form. But there are some things that can be stated with certainty ahead of the French Open, which starts today.

Her son Andy won’t be there, as he recuperates after hip surgery, but he is hoping to be fit to return for the grass courts of Rosmalen in the Netherlands. Neither will Roger Federer, who has long since learned that it makes more sense to rest his body during this portion of the season.

That leaves a reduced cast list of seasoned contenders, of which Nadal is the one who will shoulder all the burden.

“Novak [Djokovic] is starting to return to form and Dominic Thiem plays well on clay but Rafa is the one to beat with all the expectation and pressure on him,” Judy said. “It is like it is his second home.”

While Andy’s absence deprives the tournament of a man with a clay court game formidable enough to reach the final in 2016 and the semi-final last year, hopes for what the French call the rosbifs reside in two emerging young talents, born in Johannesburg within six months of each other. Kyle Edmund, who plays as

No 16 seed, will take on the talented Australian Alex de Minaur in the first round, while Kilted Kiwi Cameron Norrie is fresh from the biggest win of his career against John Isner in Lyon.

“Kyle had a great start to the year in Australia. Then after getting over injury and illness, he has had some great results,” Murray said.

The women’s draw is even more of a turkey shoot, as evidenced by the fact Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia breezed through the women’s draw with hardly a care in the world 12 months ago. Whether she can repeat the feat this year remains to be seen, but with Serena Williams returning to battle after having a baby, and Maria Sharapova back in the mix after her drugs ban, some early round anarchy seems likely.

“On the women’s side of the game, there is any one of a number who could come through and win,” Murray said. “Ostapenko was a surprise winner last year and the same could happen this time. [Simona]Halep is probably the best clay courter if she is on form but slams are tough, it comes down to winning seven matches in 14 days, it can come down to a survival of the fittest. I never make predictions, only when you are there and you see how everyone is playing can you start to get a feel for it, but there’s been some signs with [Johanna] Konta the last week or two that she is starting to find her game again so she will be in the mix as well.

“I am sure Serena will only be coming back if she feels she is 100 per cent ready so let’s hope she is. Because there is a bigger buzz about the women when she is back. It is ‘Mums on tour’. When you have got everybody back playing and everybody at their best level, then the women’s event is going to be very exciting.”

In addition to Norrie – whose dad David was born in Scotland and still has family in Glasgow and Aberdeen – there is no shortage of Scottish interest. Gordon Reid was back on the winners’ rostrum in the wheelchair event recently, while Andy’s young protege Aidan McHugh will hope for another storming run in the junior slams to go with his semi-final appearance in Australia. Judy is delighted to see the emergence of a young player she has known since primary school age.

“Gosh, I have known Aidan since he was about seven and he used to go to the little national squads that I ran for the Under-10s,” she said. “I used to call him Aidan McHuge, because he was so small. Whenever I see him now, I still shout that at him. No, it is great when you see that, someone going right the way through from the age of seven when he just loves playing, to playing on the biggest stages in tennis.

“He would have been seven or eight when Andy was starting to break through and make some big progress through the rankings and it just gives the kids that belief that it is possible, when you see someone from 30 minutes down the road, who started out at a wee club just like you, making it.

“Andy has been great with him over the last 18 months, that has been gold dust for him. It is not just about what he does on the court, it is also just how you behave, the professionalism, the hard work.

“Kids learn best by copying and the best way to do that is by working alongside someone who is great at what they do. I don’t just mean at the gym, when you are out for dinner.

“Let’s say Aidan made a big breakthrough and won a junior slam this year for example, he would have to deal with everything Andy and the rest of us had to deal with. No-one really prepares you for that. Suddenly you are in the spotlight, because you are under the radar as a junior.”

Last but not least there is Jamie and Bruno Soares in the doubles, the elder Murray sibling having a decent clay court season despite agonising exits in Madrid and Rome.

“The scoring system in doubles makes things a little bit jittery, you have the one point at deuce and the sudden death tie-break where one shank return or a net cord can change the whole outcome of the match,” Judy said. “But Jamie is in good shape and will be going over to Roland Garros this week to get ready. He has had a bit of time at home.

“I don’t know if he will play mixed or not, because he has been having a bit of problem with his knees.

“There are a lot of good teams now in doubles, it has become much more of a thing than it ever was, players specialising in doubles. It is stronger than ever.”