17-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic says he can't arrive to the French Open hoping record 12-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal doesn't make the final. Nadal, who kicked off his season restart at the Rome Masters, suffered a surprise loss in the quarterfinal against Diego Schwartzman.
A few days later, world No. 1 Djokovic beat Schwartzman in the Rome final to win a record 36th Masters title. Djokovic claimed his lone French Open title in 2016 and since then Nadal has won three consecutive titles at Roland Garros.
"Well, I cannot hope for Rafa not being in the finals (smiling). I can hope for myself being in the final and fighting for the trophy," Djokovic said in his press conference after beating Schwartzman. "I mean, that's probably the player that has the highest chance of being in the final in French Open, and any tournament, for that matter.
I mean, if there is one tournament, sorry, if there is one tournament, that's Roland Garros and that's Rafa that you would bet on."
Djokovic says weather will be a factor
In the Rome final, the conditions weren't perfect and Djokovic thought that was a good thing for him ahead of the French Open as he might face similar conditions at Roland Garros.
"Again, conditions will be different. I think today I experienced something that might be the case in terms of conditions in Paris. A little bit of rain, wet court, clay, you know, not much of a bounce, a bit cold. "That's what I think people have been talking about from the Paris weather standpoint.
I'm fine with those conditions. You know, it's going to be interesting obviously seeing how the tournament will progress, I mean, with matches. "There is a lot of matches, and it's of course two-week event with of course quallies three weeks.
If it starts raining, and we know at this time in Paris it can rain, how that's going to affect the whole scheduling, you know, and the draw and everything. "You know, we are hoping that we can finish in time, but I have to be physically ready, I think, because, you know, there might be a lot of interruptions.
If I don't get to play on center court all the time, which is the only court with roof, obviously I have to be ready that I have to deal with those kind of things, or maybe not playing for a half a day or a day. But I did experience that in the past in Paris already and in London.
"But, you know, I feel good. Of course this gives me even more confidence that is absolutely necessary for a Grand Slam."