"It's going to affect Novak Djokovic more than Rafael Nadal really" - When Roger Federer favored Spaniard over Serb after tricky French Open draw

Nadal Djokovic Federer French Open 2015
Rafael Nadal (L), Novak Djokovic (R) and Roger Federer (Inset)

Roger Federer once mentioned that the 2015 French Open draw would "affect" Novak Djokovic more than Rafael Nadal.

In 2015, Nadal fell out of the ATP Top 5 after returning from several injuries, including back trouble, a wrist issue, and appendicitis. Consequently, he was seeded No. 6 at Roland-Garros, marking his lowest seeding ever at the tournament.

Nadal found himself placed in the same quarter as his longtime rival Novak Djokovic and the 10th-seeded Grigor Dimitrov. Additionally, he was in the same half of the draw as the three-time Major champion Andy Murray.

In a pre-tournament press conference, Roger Federer shared that he didn't believe Nadal's position in the draw would significantly impact his chances. However, the Swiss expressed concern that it could be challenging for top seed Djokovic.

"The rankings reflect what happened the last 12 months," Federer said. "Of course if Rafa wouldn't have been injured, you know, from Wimbledon last year or French Open last year - I don't remember when he played his last, but - you know, he would be very close to the Top 4. If not in the top 4, maybe No. 1 or 2 in the world. Who knows?"
"So from that standpoint I see the argument, but at the same time I think it was going to be worse for somebody else other than Rafa. I don't think it was going to be bad for Rafa because he's looking at defending his title whoever he has to play through," he added.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion continued:

"It doesn't matter who it's going to affect more that quarterfinal final guy. It's going to affect Novak more in my opinion in that regard than Rafa really."

Federer's prediction didn't come true as Nadal lost to eventual runner-up Djokovic in the quarterfinals. Similarly, the Swiss' run at the tournament ended in the last eight as well, after losing to eventual champion Stan Wawrinka.

Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal share 18 French Open titles

Novak Djokovic (L) and Rafael Nadal pictured at the 2020 French Open
Novak Djokovic (L) and Rafael Nadal pictured at the 2020 French Open

The 'Big 3' in men's tennis, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer share a remarkable 18 French Open trophies, with the Spaniard winning 14 of them himself.

The 'King of Clay' Nadal secured his first Roland-Garros title in 2005, triumphing over Mariano Puerta in the final. His most recent victory at the tournament was in 2022. The Mallorcan lifted the trophy in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 in between.

Djokovic has clinched the Claycourt Slam three times (in 2016, 2021, and 2023), while Federer has tasted success on the Parisian red dirt once in 2009.

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