Novak Djokovic admitted Sunday that he is “a long shot” to win Roland Garros the place he would probably must dethrone rival and 13-time Paris champion Rafael Nadal. Djokovic could also be world primary, but it surely’s Nadal who’s the undisputed king of clay within the French capital the place he has misplaced simply twice in 102 matches since 2005. On Sunday, Djokovic once more felt the total, uncooked energy of Nadal on clay because the Spaniard clinched a tenth Italian Open title with a 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 win within the remaining. In the pair’s 57th assembly, the victory additionally took Nadal stage together with his Serb rival on 36 Masters 1000 titles.
“Going into Paris brings me a good sensation,” insisted Djokovic regardless of a roller-coaster clay court docket swing which yielded a round-of-16 exit in Monte Carlo and a semi-final loss on dwelling floor in Belgrade.
Nadal, by comparability, has two titles in Rome and Barcelona however sobering quarter-final losses in Monte Carlo and Madrid.
“I actually now started to feel like I actually want to feel on clay,” added Djokovic.
“So I think if I manage to play the way I played last night (against Lorenzo Sonego in a three-set semi-final) and today, I think I have a good chance to go all the way in Paris.
“Of course it is a lengthy shot.”
Djokovic has 18 Grand Slam titles to his name — two behind the record of 20 shared by Nadal and Roger Federer.
However, only one of those has been captured at Roland Garros, in 2016 when Nadal withdrew with a wrist injury after the second round.
Djokovic was swept aside by Nadal in the 2020 final.
Before that, he had lost three other finals in Paris, two also to Nadal and one against Stan Wawrinka.
However, Djokovic still has a place in the record books to target as he hopes to become the first man in over half a century, and just the third in history, to win all four majors more than once.
Also, he remains just one of two men to beat Nadal at the French Open, in the last-eight in 2015.
For Nadal, Roland Garros, which gets underway on May 30, means a chance for a 14th Paris title and record 21st Grand Slam crown.
“I actually wished this title,” Nadal, 34, said Sunday after winning his 10th Rome trophy.
“This had been one of many first vital titles I gained in my profession. I’d gained 10 in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Roland Garros and actually wished this one too.”
Djokovic will play on home clay again in Belgrade the week before Roland Garros.
Nadal will head home to Mallorca to fine-tune his game.
“I feel I’ve been bettering this week, however I have to hold going with that enchancment,” he said Sunday.
“When you enhance and also you’re capable of do it day by day for an extended time, you then really feel extra assured and extra protected.”
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