Novak Djokovic dropped just a single set en route to his record-breaking 36th Masters 1000 title at the Italian Open in Rome.
The Serb was taken to three sets in his quarterfinal match by Dominik Koepfer, but managed to win all his other encounters in straight sets - including the final against Diego Schwartzman.
World No. 2 Rafael Nadal, meanwhile, lost to Schwartzman in the quarterfinal in Rome in a rare loss on clay.
Nadal had been playing some fine tennis in the previous rounds of the tournament and was touted by many to win the title before his sudden exit. And Djokovic believes the Spaniard is still the man to beat at the upcoming French Open.
The Serb also talked about his own play during the Italian Open, asserting that he wasn't at his best despite what the results show.
Rafael Nadal still the favorite at Roland Garros but beatable on clay: Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic brought up Rafael Nadal's past records and legacy at Roland Garros while explaining why he is still the favorite.
“It’s Nadal (the favorite). Even though he lost this week, I still think a lot of people will agree, he’s the No. 1 favorite,” Djokovic said. “The record that he has there and the history of his results, you just can’t put anybody in front of him.”
But Djokovic did also point out that Nadal no longer has an air of invincibility on clay. The Serb believes that the damp and heavy conditions that Nadal struggled in at Rome would also be present in Paris, thereby nullifying the Spaniard's strengths a little.
“But Diego definitely showed that Nadal is beatable on clay,” Djokovic added. “The conditions that they played on, obviously heavy clay, not much bounce, humid, night session, we are going to have that, as well, in Paris.”
I hope to raise my level at Roland Garros: Novak Djokovic
Such is the level of tennis Novak Djokovic is currently playing at that he manages to win tournaments despite being far from his best.
Djokovic was seen struggling against Dominik Koepfer, Filip Krajinovic, Casper Ruud as well as Diego Schwartzman, but he managed to up his game at crucial junctures to emerge victorious.
Following his win in the final, he said that he hadn't played his best tennis but didn’t want to ‘sound arrogant’ by admitting it. Novak Djokovic then went on to say that he hopes to be able to raise his game in Paris.
“I don't want to sound arrogant, but I didn't play my best tennis," Djokovic remarked. "Fortunately I found it a bit when I really needed it. I also hope to be able to raise the level for Roland Garros, because that will be necessary if I want to go far. The positive point of the tournament is that I served very well."Published 22 Sep 2020, 15:17 IST