‘Rafael Nadal is always favourite here’ – Novak Djokovic coach backs rival over charge
Goran Ivanisevic still sees Rafael Nadal as heavy favourite to claim what would be a 14th title on the Paris clay.
Nadal’s chronic foot injury flared up again in Rome while facing Denis Shapovalov as he lost to the Canadian.
But Ivanisevic, coach to world number one and defending Roland Garros champion Novak Djokovic, suggested that occurrence has not changed his view on Nadal’s chances.
Speaking with L’Equipe, Ivanisevic said: “For me, there is only one favourite at Roland Garros and that is Nadal.
“Even with what has happened with his foot in Rome, I always think that. Injured, not injured, he is always the favourite here.”
Remember, despite not being defending champion in 2022, Nadal still holds an incredible 105-3 win-loss record at the clay Major.
Court Philippe-Chatrier is often referred to as ‘Rafa’s house’, a characterisation with which Ivanisevic agrees.
He continued: “[Roland Garros] is his home, [Philippe-Chatrier is] his court. He knows all the good bounces, all the bad bounces, every nook and cranny.
“Whether he plays well or badly, under the sun or not, it changes nothing. Rafa is incredible, I have enormous respect for him.”
In order to meet for an astounding 59th time in their ATP careers, Nadal and Djokovic will have to reach the quarter-finals.
That would be a first meeting between the pair since Djokovic downed the ‘King of Clay’ in four sets in the semi-finals of last year’s Roland Garros.
Nadal faces Jordan Thompson of Australia first, while Djokovic closes play on Philippe-Chatrier on day two in Paris against Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka.
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