Novak Djokovic: Rafael Nadal still the ultimate challenge on clay, especially in Paris
Roland-Garros is still a couple of weeks away and Rafael Nadal may be struggling slightly, but Novak Djokovic warns the Spaniard will again be the player to beat.
Djokovic’s clay-court campaign gathered momentum over the weekend as he won the Madrid Open for a third time, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.
Nadal, by contrast, is yet to reach a final on the red dirt this year, but he is not known as the King of Clay for nothing and many expect him to find form before the French Open.
Should that happen and Djokovic continue to play at his current standards then we may well see another final between the two in Roland-Garros.
Although the world No 1 knows a lot can still happen between now and then, he knows not to write off Nadal.
“Well, if that match-up happens in Paris, that is going to be finals,” the Serb is quoted as saying by Metro.co.uk. “It’s a very long way to that and I understand you want to visualise that and discuss that.
“But, you know, it’s a lot of things can happen. I mean, we can both lose before finals. If it happens, I hope that we will both be at our best because then that would make the match-up as it is supposed to be, you know, finals of Grand Slams.
“And we already played one this year in Australia where I thought he was really playing well throughout the entire tournament, hadn’t dropped a set, and I was also playing well and in the finals, I was probably playing my best tennis, you know, maybe in any Slam final.
“So, I hope I can play well in Paris as well, as I did in the last three Slams.
“But, look, he’s always an ultimate challenge on clay, especially in Paris. He has lost, what, like three times in his entire career in Paris? Two, okay. That says enough about his quality and the kind of a challenge that he is, you know, facing in Paris.”
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