Rafael Nadal - Australian Open 2023, Novak Djokovic - Indian Wells 2024

Rafael Nadal ‘not the same’ claims Novak Djokovic after reacting to Roland Garros draw

Rafael Nadal has been handed a tricky opener at Roland Garros this year, and rival Novak Djokovic has reacted to the draw.

Nadal will play fourth seed and Italian Open champion Alexander Zverev in the first round, in a rematch from their 2022 Roland Garros semi-final.

It is the first time that Nadal is not seeded at the Paris major, with the 37-year-old currently ranked at world No.276.

And Djokovic reacted to the draw when speaking to media in Geneva, “Yes, I’ve seen it. Total spectacle. I’m excited to see that match, it will be a very interesting match. Zverev is in great shape, having won in Rome. On the court at Roland Garros, he is not the same Rafa we are facing. It’s Roland Garros, so we’ll see what happens.”

It is currently unclear as to exactly when this match will take place (either Monday or Tuesday), but Djokovic believes it would be perfect for the night session.

“It’s going to be showtime and I’m excited to see that,” continued Djokovic. “I know Rafa won’t want it, but I think it can be a game scheduled for the evening… In any case, it will be very interesting because Zverev is in great shape. But on the Roland Garros court, Rafa is Rafa.”

In terms of Djokovic, he will begin his Roland Garros title defence against French wildcard Pierre-Hugues Herbert, but first the world No.1 is seeking the Geneva Open title.

The 24-time Grand Slam champion progressed to the semi-finals in Geneva yesterday after beating Tallon Griekspoor in straight sets, and seemed generally pleased with his performance after the match.

“It was a great win,” claimed Djokovic. “I thought the first set could have gone his way easily because I think he was a better player for most of the first set.

“We could have been having a completely different direction of the match if he converted those set points. I was lucky to find some really good serves, and from that moment onwards I really, really played some good, solid tennis.”

Djokovic will look to reach his first final of the season later today, when he takes on world No.44 Tomas Machac.

Inside the baseline…

Rafael Nadal of now is certainly not the same as Rafael Nadal of old, that is an indisputable fact and the man himself would be the first to say that. However, like Novak Djokovic said it is Roland Garros and if ever there is a time for Nadal to pull out a performance of old then it will be there. In terms of Djokovic, he appears to be finding his feet on the clay again after a relatively tricky year so far, just in time for the second Grand Slam of the season.

READ NEXT – Roland Garros 2024: Popcorn matches from the men’s singles draw

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.