Novak Djokovic admitted Sunday that he is “a protracted shot” to win Roland Garros the place he would doubtless need to dethrone rival and 13-time Paris champion Rafael Nadal. Djokovic could also be world primary, however it’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 complete, uncooked energy of Nadal on clay because the Spaniard clinched a 10th Italian Open title with a 7-5, 1-6, 6-Three win within the remaining. Within 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 an excellent sensation,” insisted Djokovic regardless of a roller-coaster clay courtroom 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 really now began to really feel like I really wish to really feel on clay,” added Djokovic.
“So I feel if I handle to play the best way I performed final night time (in opposition to Lorenzo Sonego in a three-set semi-final) and as we speak, I feel I’ve an excellent probability to go all the best way in Paris.
“After all it is a lengthy shot.”
Djokovic has 18 Grand Slam titles to his title — two behind the document of 20 shared by Nadal and Roger Federer.
Nonetheless, solely a kind of has been captured at Roland Garros, in 2016 when Nadal withdrew with a wrist damage after the second spherical.
Djokovic was swept apart by Nadal within the 2020 remaining.
Earlier than that, he had misplaced three different finals in Paris, two additionally to Nadal and one in opposition to Stan Wawrinka.
Nonetheless, Djokovic nonetheless has a spot within the document books to focus on as he hopes to turn into the primary man in over half a century, and simply the third in historical past, to win all 4 majors greater than as soon as.
Additionally, he stays simply certainly one of two males to beat Nadal on the French Open, within the last-eight in 2015.
For Nadal, Roland Garros, which will get underway on Might 30, means an opportunity for a 14th Paris title and document 21st Grand Slam crown.
“I actually wished this title,” Nadal, 34, stated Sunday after profitable his 10th Rome trophy.
“This had been one of many first essential titles I received in my profession. I would received 10 in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Roland Garros and actually wished this one too.”
Djokovic will play on dwelling clay once more in Belgrade the week earlier than Roland Garros.
Nadal will head dwelling to Mallorca to fine-tune his recreation.
“I feel I’ve been bettering this week, however I have to maintain going with that enchancment,” he stated Sunday.
“Whenever you enhance and also you’re capable of do it each day for an extended time, then you definately really feel extra assured and extra protected.”
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