Novak Djokovic finds an apt word to describe Rafael Nadal at the French Open

Novak Djokovic finds an apt word to describe Rafael Nadal at the French Open

Novak Djokovic is one of the few players to beat Rafael Nadal at the French Open, but he admits the challenge of overcoming the great Spaniard on his favourite court is the toughest challenge in tennis.

Nadal has won a remarkable 14 titles at Roland Garros and is hoping to have a final crack at winning the clay court Grand Slam later this month before he retires from tennis.

Djokovic would have won a lot more French Open titles if Nadal was not standing in his way, as he has lost eight times against his great rival in 10 meetings at Roland Garros.

Now he has opened up on the challenge of taking on the ultimate ‘King of Clay’, as he found a word to describe his ability to repel anything thrown at him over the course of his career.

“He’s like a wall,” said Djokovic. “It’s probably one of the biggest challenges that you can have on the tennis tour, playing Rafa at Roland Garros.

“We know his records there. I played him probably more than any other player has played him on that court.

“The court is bigger. There is more space, which affects visually the play a lot and the feeling of the player on the court. He likes to stand behind quite far back on his return.

“You have sometimes when he’s really in the zone and in the groove, not making many errors. You feel like he’s impenetrable.

“It’s really a paramount challenge to play him in Roland Garros. He’s an incredible athlete. The tenacity and intensity he brings on the court, particularly there, is something that was very rarely seen I think in the history of this sport.

READ MORE: Novak Djokovic’s unrivalled success after turning 30 is illustrated by astonishing statistic

“I’m sure that it’s going to be very emotional tournament for him, as it probably was in Madrid and here. But there in particular because of the records he has.”

Djokovic was also asked to comment on the news that Dominic Thiem may be ready to call time on his career, as he continues to fight a losing battle with injuries.

“First of all, a great guy, very good person, someone that has very good manners, good values, family man, somebody that always took time to say hello, always showed respect on the court, off the court,” said Djokovic of the Austrian.

“I really like Dominic. I think he’s a great example of somebody who never gives up after the difficult time he had and still has with injuries, trying to work his way back to the level where he was when he was winning Grand Slams and being in top of the world (rankings).

“Of course, we all understand how difficult it is to come back. I mean, I was having an injury myself back in 2018, a major injury of the elbow, trying to work my way back.
“I know that kind of a feeling. Fortunately for me, I didn’t stay in that kind of feeling for too long. I managed come back and find the desired level maybe six or seven months after that.

“For him, it’s been a struggle to build rankings and find the level of tennis for quite a few years. I definitely empathize with him and I wish him all the best.

“We are all hoping as tennis fans and colleagues of his that he can find the level because he was always very exciting to watch. Spectacular shots, incredible one-handed backhand, forehands, so much power and intensity he brings on the court.

“Yeah, hopefully he can stay, to play as long as he can, because he’s also a very important player for our sport. But he decides, so only he knows how long he’s going to play.”

Related Articles