'It's Really A Paramount Challenge': Djokovic On Facing Nadal At Roland Garros

'It's Really A Paramount Challenge': Djokovic On Facing Nadal At Roland Garros

by Nurein Ahmed

Novak Djokovic knows a proper challenge when confronted with one and opined that facing Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros is "one of the biggest" challenges in tennis.

Djokovic and Nadal have enjoyed a prolific rivalry on the ATP Tour. The pair have played 59 times, with the Serb leading the head-to-head 30-29. However, Nadal leads his great rival 11-7 at the majors, with eight of those victories being at the French Open.

Statistically, they are the two most successful men's players of all time in terms of Grand Slams, Masters, and career prize money earned. With Nadal playing possibly the final season of his professional career in 2024, Djokovic is hoping they can share the stage for a 60th time.

That could happen in the next two weeks at the Italian Open. Djokovic and Nadal have entered into an ATP tournament at the same time. The Spaniard is building his fitness and form ahead of a fresh assault of the French Open.

Djokovic, meanwhile, is playing his first tournament in a month and is looking to peak before the clay-court major, where he will defend his title. He spoke to the press where one of the questions related to Nadal's return to action.

The possibility that the world No. 1 will face Nadal at the French Open is there, and despite notching two victories against the king of clay on his happy hunting ground, he still reckons it is the ultimate challenge.

"Yeah, it's probably one of the biggest challenges that you can have in the tennis tour, playing Rafa (Nadal) at Roland Garros. We know his records there. I played him probably more than any other player has played him on that court."

Nadal is such an intimidating presence at Roland Garros, as Djokovic asserted in his pre-tournament press conference in Rome. The 37-year-old has won a record 14 titles, the most by any player at a single Grand Slam tournament. His 112-3 record at the event remains unmatched.

"The court is bigger. There is more space, which affects visually the play a lot and the feeling of the player on the court. He likes to stand behind quite far back, return. You have sometimes when he's really in the zone and in the groove, not making many errors. You feel like he's impenetrable. He's like a wall."

"It's really a paramount challenge to play him in Roland Garros. He's an incredible athlete. The tenacity and intensity he brings on the court, particularly there, is something that was very rarely seen I think in the history of this sport."


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