Nadal the favourite in France

2007-06-09 11:39
Paris - Rafael Nadal's bruised and battered French Open victims are unanimous - Roger Federer is set for another Roland Garros heartbreak in Sunday's Final.

One by one Lleyton Hewitt, Carlos Moya and Novak Djokovic have fallen to the two-times defending champion and not one of them has been able to take a set off the Spaniard.

What chance then for Federer who has tennis immortality in his sights and Nadal's imposing physique firmly in the way?

The Serb Djokovik was the latest to suffer at the hands of the Spanish maestro who at just 21 years old already is on his way to eclipsing Bjorn Borg as the greatest claycourt player of all time.

"He's very confident playing on clay, it's his favourite surface", the 20-year-old revelation of the year said after his straight sets defeat.

"During the match, when you see how fit he is, how much he can go left-right, running without dropping any energy.

"He is on one level all the time and it's not easy to hold on to him, especially on this surface."

"I can say that the final will be open, because the last match they played, Federer won in Hamburg. But I would put Rafa as the favourite because he won in the past two years here in the French Open."

Hewitt backs Nadal

Former world No 1 Lleyton Hewitt would not beg to differ.

Losing in straight sets to Nadal in the fourth round, the straight-talking Australian, who has lost his last nine games against Federer, nevertheless also gave the advantage to the younger man.

"I think he's going to be tough to beat", he said of Nadal.

"The conditions here suit him really well, probably more so than the court in Hamburg where Roger beat him. It bounces around a lot which I think helps Nadal more."

Moya, Nadal's victim in the quarter-finals, probably knows the game of his fellow Mallorcan better than anyone else as the two are close friends and associates.

"I think that there are just a few players who can even get a set from him", he said of Nadal.

"Maybe, if he is relaxed for a couple of games, maybe he loses his serve, so that's the only chance.

"But if he's playing focused the whole match, I don't see many players who can even get a set off him."

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