NOVAK DJOKOVIC is set for a blockbuster quarter-final showdown with Rafael Nadal at the French Open.
Novak Djokovic’s coach has insisted Rafa Nadal is favourite to win the French Open. But Goran Ivanisevic has claimed it will be better to face the Spanish superstar in a blockbuster quarter-final than in the Roland Garros final.
World No.1 Djokovic is the defending champion who is aiming to equal Nadal’s record of 21 Grand Slam titles in the French capital.
Nadal is seeking a 14th French Open title despite suffering from foot and rib injuries which have restricted him to only five matches on clay this season. The Spaniard and the Serb have met a record 58 times, with Djokovic leading 30-28. But Nadal has won seven of their nine matches at Roland Garros, including three finals.
And former Wimbledon champion Ivanisevic claimed: “For me, there is only one favourite at Roland Garros and that is Nadal. Even with what has happened with his foot in Rome, I always think that. Injured, not injured, he is always the favourite here. It is his home, his court. He knows all the good bounces, all the bad bounces, every nook and cranny. Whether he plays well or badly, under the sun or not, it changes nothing.”
Both superstars start their French Open campaigns today with Novak playing the first-ever night session at the revamped Roland Garros. But the two are on a collision course to meet in the quarter-finals – with the winner potentially facing new star Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals.
Ivanisevic told L’Equipe: “When I saw the draw, to be honest, I said: ‘OK, Nadal is going to get to the final. And so Novak was out..’
“Rafa is incredible. I have enormous respect for him. In the final, Medvedev could not close the match and you must never do that against Rafa! Anyway, I said seven or eight years ago that Rafa and Novak would have more than 20 Grand Slam titles, and we are there with Nadal.
“Honestly, it is ok. They have already played so many times. Two years ago, they met here in the final. Last year in the semis, now in the quarters. It will be maybe in the first round next year!
“Rafa or not, Novak needs to concentrate on himself. He has to get to the quarter-finals and then they will think about this match. It will surely be the biggest quarter-final in the history of Roland Garros. I said that to you last year, here, it is always better to face Rafa other than in the final and I still think that. Rafa in the final at Roland Garros, he is hard to beat.”