In just over a week, Roland Garros will begin, taking on even greater significance this year. All eyes will once again be on Rafael Nadal, winner of the International BNL of Italy seven days ago, who will go after his 14th triumph in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. In the event of yet another triumph in Paris, the former world number 1 would overtake Roger Federer in the all-time ranking for the first time, climbing to 21 Grand Slams. The 34-year-old from Manacor will have to deal with a large group of fierce rivals, starting with a Novak Djokovic intent on redeeming the heavy blow he suffered last year. Not to underestimate Dominic Thiem, whose start to the season was anything but idyllic, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, who won the Masters 1000 in Madrid and Monte Carlo respectively. During a recent interview with ‘Bleacher Report’, the 20-time Grand Slam champion returned to part of the historic rivalry between him, Federer and Djokovic. Shortly after the final in Rome, the Serbian admitted that there is no greater challenge in tennis than facing Nadal on clay.
Rafael Nadal on the rivalry between himself, Federer and Djokovic
“With Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, we have been fighting together for such a very, very long time,” Rafael Nadal said. “We have a lot of respect for each other, we know how difficult it is to win events when we’re playing against each other. It’s always beautiful to receive a compliment like Novak said.” Rafael Nadal said little had changed over the years in terms of his preparation for the French Open, but affirmed that he had developed a lot more passion. “It’s similar, but the age is different so the approach is a little bit different,” Rafael Nadal said. “I have a little bit more passion now than years ago, but that’s all about experience.” Recently, Nadal‘s coach Francisco Roig spoke on the two athletes who have come close to troubling the Spaniard on clay in many instances in the recent past. He found similarities between the two great players when they play on the clay courts. Roig believes that while the Austrian player has dipped in form, he will bounce back and can produce successful results at Roland Garros. The 53-year-old said, “Of course, if Thiem regains the rhythm and confidence that he usually shows on clay, I would say that I do not see differences between him and Djokovic. “Since he won the US Open, he has dropped a bit, but I’m sure that for Roland Garros, he will be at the necessary level and will be a very tough opponent.”