Novak Djokovic ‘becomes favourite’ for French Open with Rafael Nadal injured

Novak Djokovic French Open celebrations

Novak Djokovic is likely to be the man to beat the French Open, provided he gets a few tournaments under his belt following his recent absence from the ATP Tour, according to Mats Wilander.

Twenty-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic has played only three matches in 2022 due to his unvaccinated status as he was deported from Australia ahead of the season-opening Grand Slam, while he was also unable to compete at Indian Wells and Miami as only fully vaccinated foreigners are allowed to enter the United States.

Djokovic, who competed at the Qatar Open where he lost in the quarter-final, will make his return to action at the Monte Carlo Masters while he has also signed up for the Serbia Open.

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Seven-time Grand Slam winner Wilander is tipping Djokovic to defend his title at Roland Garros.

“So he’s going to be well rested in his mind, in his heart,” he told Eurosport.

“Physically, he has been able to set up his training schedule perfectly, at least the way that he would want to.

“Of course, he would have liked to play more matches, but if he gets to three tournaments and maybe [plays] 10 to 15 matches, he goes into Roland Garros as maybe the favourite to win the tournament.”

Following Rafael Nadal’s brilliant start to the season with the Spaniard winning three tournaments, including the Australian Open, many believed Nadal would be the favourite at Roland Garros.

Nadal, though, will now miss the start of the clay-court season after picking up a rib injury and Wilander believes it has changed the odds in Djokovic’s favour.

The Swede added: “Now that Rafael Nadal is maybe not going to have the perfect preparation, Djokovic suddenly becomes the favourite.

“But he most probably needs a little bit of confidence in some of the tournaments that leads up to the French.

“But that’s great news because we don’t want to see the rat race end with Rafa Nadal having a fractured rib, with Roger Federer having surgeries on his body and with Djokovic not being able to play tennis because of vaccination issues when it comes to Covid-19.

“So hopefully we can get all three of them back healthy in the right state of mind. And just for one tournament, I’d like to see the three of them play again. That’s going to be the biggest tournament of all time in the history of professional tennis.”