‘I’d pick him’ – John McEnroe makes favourite choice in possible Rafael Nadal Novak Djokovic Roland Garros battle
Former world number one John McEnroe has backed Novak Djokovic to consolidate his Roland Garros semi-final win over Rafael Nadal last year to down the Spaniard if the two meet in Paris next week.
With two wins each, Djokovic and Nadal must both win two more matches in to meet in the quarter-finals in what would be a 59th tour level match-up between the pairing.
Now, with Roland Garros in full swing and two matches per player to analyse from the French capital, McEnroe has chosen the world number one as favourite to win.
The American told Eurosport: “I’m not sure [Djokovic] is at his best level, but he’s getting closer to it.
“What he went through down in Australia, Djokovic has a way of fuelling those types of situations into something positive.
“That is extremely difficult to do, so it took him a while.
“I’m sure he was in a very foul mood for a few months, and that’s part of why he didn’t do well in these lead-in tournaments.”
After beginning his 2022 clay campaign in Monte Carlo, Djokovic went 5-3 ahead of the Rome Masters without a title from Monte Carlo, Belgrade and Madrid, falling short of his normally very high standards.
However, the 20-time Major champion then turned his fortunes around to win the Rome Masters for a sixth time, and without dropping a set across his five victories there.
That display plus his start at Roland Garros have convinced McEnroe Djokovic is the man to beat over Nadal, if only just.
He added: “Now it looks like ‘there’s Novak Djokovic, he’s back!
“He’s 35, in incredible shape, certainly he’s right [up there].
“For me if I had to pick a guy [to win Roland Garros] I’d still pick him.
“Slight, very slight favourite.”
Djokovic faces Aljaz Bedene in the third round before Diego Schwartzman in the last 16.
Meanwhile, Nadal takes on Botic van de Zandschulp ahead of a match with either Felix Auger-Aliassime or Filip Krajinovic.
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