Novak Djokovic ‘has a feeling of revenge within him’ ahead of Roland Garros, says Mats Wilander

Novak Djokovic 2021 French Open champion

Novak Djokovic will be out on a revenge mission at Roland Garros this year after being unable to play at the Australian Open, according to Mats Wilander.

World No 1 Djokovic was unable to defend his title at Melbourne Park as he was deported from the country over his unvaccinated status while he also missed the Sunshine Double at Indian Wells and Miami.

He then made a sluggish return at the Monte Carlo Masters as he lost his opening match against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, but has been building up steam ever since as he finished runner-up at the Serbia Open, reached the semi-final of the Madrid Open before winning the Italian Open title on Sunday.

Next up is the French Open where he is the defending champion and top seed, but while some are tipping 13-time champion Rafael Nadal, Wilander is sticking with the Serbian.

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Asked by Spanish publication Marca about his favourite for the title, the Eurosport pundit replied: “For many reasons I have to say Novak.

“First because he has just won Rome and that will give him confidence.

“Then because I think he has a feeling of revenge within him after everything that has happened to him in recent months… with him not being able to play the Australian Open.

“He is the defending champion. He has proven to himself that he can play long matches again despite the loss to [Carlos] Alcaraz in Madrid.

“In Monte Carlo he gave a bad impression at the end of his match with Davidovich, he looked tired. He is better now and he appears to be [better]. He is the favourite in Paris.”

Although he doesn’t see Nadal as the favourite in Paris, especially as he is struggling with his long-term foot injury again, seven-time Grand Slam winner Wilander is not worried about the 21-time Grand Slam winner’s future.

“Rafa’s career is like that. I always compare Rafa to a horse: he will run as fast as he can and fight. His effort has no limits, his limit is injuries,” he explained.

“He will continue until an injury does not allow him to play anymore. The reality is that he has learned to come back from injuries and he always comes back. You always see something different in him when he’s back. One day he won’t be able to come back.

“He hinted that he might not be able to last year and the results have proven him wrong. It is true that he could feel injured in Rome, but he knows how to preserve his physique to give himself a chance at Roland Garros.”