Starting from Roland Garros 2006, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have forged one of the most impressive rivalries in the Open era, fighting on the biggest tennis stages 53 times. With both players struggling with injuries and form at some point in the last couple of years, they had only four meetings in the previous three years, the most recent one in the final at the Australian Open when Novak delivered one of the most one-sided wins over Rafa to lift the 15th Grand Slam title.
They were a match away from another encounter last week in Madrid but Nadal lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-final, setting the next potential clashes against Novak in the finals of Rome and Paris if they both pass all the obstacles.
Novak is aware of Rafa's threat at Roland Garros and the fact the Spaniard lost only a couple of matches there in the last 15 years, preparing himself for another clash with a great rival if they both deliver their best tennis.
Chasing the fourth Grand Slam title in a row for the second time in a career, Novak is entirely focused on Roland Garros and another chapter of tennis history he would write if he goes all the way. "Well, if that match-up happens in Paris, that is going to be finals.
It's a very long way to that and I understand you want to visualize that and discuss that. But, you know, it's a lot of things can happen. I mean, we can both lose before finals. If it happens, I hope that we will both be at our best because then that would make the match-up as it is supposed to be, you know, finals of Grand Slams.
And we already played one this year in Australia where I thought he was playing well throughout the entire tournament, hadn't dropped a set, and I was also playing well and in the finals, I was probably playing my best tennis, you know, maybe in any Slam final.
So, I hope I can play well in Paris as well, as I did in the last three Slams. But, look, he's always an ultimate challenge on clay, especially in Paris. He has lost, what, like three times in his entire career in Paris? Two, okay. That says enough about his quality and the kind of a challenge that he is, you know, facing in Paris."