On the face of it, the result of the quarter-final here on Court Philippe Chatrier should be a foregone conclusion. The world No 1, who since last year’s French Open has won two Grand Slam tournaments, five Masters Series titles and the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, is taking on the world No 7, who over the same period has won just one minor event in Buenos Aires.
This, however, is the French Open and whatever Rafael Nadal’s troubles over the last year – he is at his lowest position in the world rankings since 2005 – the Spaniard still refers to Roland Garros as home. Novak Djokovic, who has been at the top of the world rankings since he claimed his second Wimbledon title last summer, has met Nadal here six times and has yet to beat him. Take the French Open out of their head-to-head record and Djokovic leads 20-17.
“Playing him here and playing him in any other tournament is totally different,” Djokovic said. “The conditions are suitable to his style. He loves playing on Chatrier.
“I have never won against him at Roland Garros but, on the other hand, I was close a couple of times – and the fact that I’m having a great season and feeling good about every aspect of my game gives me belief.”
While Nadal has won the title here a record nine times, Djokovic needs to claim the Coupe des Mousquetaires to become only the eighth man in history to win all four Grand Slams. “The pressure is on both of us,” Djokovic said. “You have to deal with it.
“Of course, it is a different approach mentally when you play Nadal in the quarter-finals. I’m going to try to keep my routine the same and not give so much importance to the match. I don’t want to spend too much energy before getting on the court, because I know that it’s necessary to have every source of strength and energy possible.”
Nadal, who struggled to rediscover his best form after missing most of the second half of last season because of a wrist problem and then appendicitis, has been keen to stress that this meeting is a quarter-final and not the final.
“Of course I don’t like playing a quarter-final against Novak,” he said. “I hope Novak won’t like playing me in a quarter-final. But I’m ready to play this match and will try to do my best.”Reuse content