Nadal eyes his sixth French Open title

2011-05-21 18:20

World number one Rafael Nadal has a record-equalling sixth French Open in his sights, but the Spaniard believes undefeated Novak Djokovic will start Roland Garros – kicking off today – as title favourite.

And, something will have to give over the next two weeks.

Nadal, one triumph away from matching Bjorn Borg’s six trophies in Paris, has a French Open record of 38 wins and just one loss – his sensational early 2009 exit to Robin Soderling.

Djokovic, the world number two, has won all 37 matches he has played this year and is just five away from matching John McEnroe’s 1984 record for successive wins at the start of a year.

It’s a streak which has garnered him seven titles, including the Australian Open and all four Masters.

“I think Djokovic is the great favourite. He hasn’t lost a match this year and he’s playing in an incredible way,” said Nadal, who has lost to the Serb in all four Masters finals.

Crucially, the last two were on the clay of Madrid and Rome, where Nadal was defending champion.

The Spaniard is wary of over-confidence, either in himself or his main rival.

“When you arrive at the tournament, every round is difficult. Every match, every time when you go on court you can win and you can lose.

So thinking about winning the tournament before the start is, for me, too arrogant.”

Djokovic can also snatch Nadal’s world number one spot if he reaches the final in two weeks’ time.

The Serb is a two-time semifinalist in Paris, but he is playing down the hype of an event which could see a shift in the balance of power.

“Let’s be clear – he is the king of clay, the best ever to play on this surface,” Djokovic said about Nadal after his Rome triumph this past Sunday.

The Serb added on Friday: “I don’t feel unbeatable; nobody is unbeatable.

I’m really trying not to think about the run that I have and when it will end, because that will mean that I’m thinking about losing.”

“I say Rafa is the favourite here.”

Ever since Djokovic inspired Serbia to their first Davis Cup final triumph in Belgrade in December, he has been unstoppable, with his total win streak now standing at 39.

But Nadal has history on his side, having defeated Djokovic three times in Paris, all in straight sets.

His 2008 and 2010 surges to the title were achieved without dropping a set and Nadal believes all the pressure will be on Djokovic.

“He beat me in the last four Masters but I beat him in lots of important things in the past – the semifinals of the Olympics, the final of the US Open, two semifinals at Roland Garros,” said Nadal.

The fascination with the Nadal-Djokovic duel has left 16-time Grand Slam title-winner Roger Federer in the unusual position of supporting role.

Federer, the 2009 champion, will be 30 in August and is desperate to prove that he is still a threat at the majors.

He is also driven by a desire to recapture the number one spot, where his 285 weeks on top of the rankings is just one week short of Pete Sampras’s record.

Federer’s three clay court outings this year have ended prematurely, with a quarterfinal loss to Juergen Melzer in Monte-Carlo, a semifinal exit against Nadal in Madrid, followed by a third-round defeat to Richard Gasquet in Rome.

Federer has not reached a Grand Slam final since winning the Australian Open last year.

“It’s not like I’m struggling in the first or second round.

It’s a new situation with Novak not losing,” said Federer.

Andy Murray, too, will be happy to be under the radar in Paris.

The world number four was two points away from defeating a weary-looking Djokovic in the Rome semifinals and is hopeful of improving on his best Paris performance, a quarterfinal run in 2009.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/Sport

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.