With the shift in surface from hardcourt to clay, the attention of the tennis world is now on its King of Clay Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard, despite being out of action for six long months, is everybody’s favorite to lift the title in Paris. Not even the most in-form player this year - Novak Djokovic - thinks otherwise.
In a recent conversation with Ubitennis, the Serb labelled Rafael Nadal as the favorite at Roland Garros despite being in flawless form himself. Novak Djokovic did not place himself as the next favorite either, claiming that that position goes to newly crowned US Open champion Dominic Thiem.
Novak Djokovic also spoke about his biggest goal in tennis - namely, to go past Roger Federer’s all-time Grand Slam record.
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Rafael Nadal deserves a separate discussion: Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic will go into the French Open on the back of some jaw-dropping form in 2020 (26-1, W-L) and way more match-practice than Rafael Nadal. But the Serb knows well that none of this matters on clay as long as the Spaniard is fit to contend.
With a 98% win-rate at Roland Garros, Rafael Nadal has proven to be virtually unbeatable on the brick dust of Paris. That renders all the practice and form that Novak Djokovic will come in with irrelevant.
Rafael Nadal will only have the Rome Masters to prepare himself for his defence of the French Open title, but Novak Djokovic believes that that will not have an impact on the Spaniard. The Serb added that Nadal was the favorite for every claycourt tournament, even aside from the French Open.
For the Serb, the man with 12 French Open titles deserves a ‘separate discussion’ due to his absolute dominance on the surface. Djokovic also thinks that Nadal has an added advantage, having been practicing on the surface for more than a month.
“Nadal deserves a separate discussion: he is the favorite on clay, from Roland Garros to any other tournament,” Djokovic said. “He has been training on this surface for some time and this can only be an advantage. Apart from him, for the others, there will still be an evaluation of the adaptation.”
Despite having four final appearances, including one title, at Roland Garros, Novak Djokovic doesn’t think he is the next favorite for the title either. Two-time finalist at Paris Dominic Thiem is the next best bet for the title as per the World No. 1.
“Thiem, behind Rafa, is the second big favorite for Roland Garros,” Djokovic added.
The biggest goal is to overcome Roger Federer’s record: Novak Djokovic
It’s hardly been a secret that Novak Djokovic gives great importance to records and achievements. The Serb has always craved to be the best ever, and according to him, that can only be achieved by breaking Roger Federer’s all-time Grand Slam record.
“Sampras was my idol when I was a child, being able to overcome him will have a particular meaning,” Djokovic added. “But my biggest goal is to win as many Grand Slam to overcome Federer's record.”
Just three titles behind the Swiss, Novak Djokovic looks well set to eclipse that record over the next few years. With the Swiss in the closing stages of his career, it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll be able to build an insurmountable lead at the top.
Follow Sportskeeda to get the latest French Open 2020 Results and SchedulePublished 15 Sep 2020, 20:37 IST