Novak Djokovic gives insight into playing ‘impenetrable’ Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros – ‘He’s like a wall’ – Eurosport

Novak Djokovic gives insight into playing ‘impenetrable’ Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros – ‘He’s like a wall’ – Eurosport

Novak Djokovic has given a glimpse into what it is like to face Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros as the second Grand Slam of the year fast approaches.

Nadal has won a whopping 14 French Opens and has never lost a final on the iconic court in Paris but this is likely to be his last appearance as a player amid his ongoing injury problems.

Djokovic, himself a three-time French Open champion, has played Nadal 10 times at Roland Garros, winning just twice, and described the Spaniard as “impenetrable” on his favourite surface as the pair’s epic rivalry draws to a close.

“It’s probably one of the biggest challenges you can have on the tennis tour, playing Rafa at Roland Garros,” Djokovic said, ahead of the Italian Open. “We know his record there and I’ve played him probably more than any other player has played him on that court.

“The court is bigger, there’s more space, which affects visually the play a lot and the feeling of the player on the court and he likes to stand quite far back to return.

“So you have some times when he’s really in the zone and in the groove and not making many errors, you feel like he’s impenetrable, he’s like a wall. It’s really a paramount challenge to play him at 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 in the history of the sport.

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

‘Happy about the way I feel today’ – Nadal confident ahead of Rome campaign

Nadal’s intention was to compete in the Australian Open after a near 12-month spell on the sidelines but hit a setback when he suffered a micro tear on his hip at the Brisbane International.

That ruled him out of the first Grand Slam of 2024 but he returned again at last month’s Barcelona Open and then featured a week later in Madrid as he ramped up his preparation for the French Open.

Djokovic has also struggled of late. He was beaten by Jannik Sinner in the semi-finals in Melbourne before early exits at Indian Wells and Monte-Carlo.

He has taken some time away from the game and made changes to his coaching team in a bid to rediscover his best form and thinks he is now ready to “peak” at Roland-Garros.

“I had plenty of time to rest and train,” Djokovic added. “I had a good training block and I arrived here two days ago to get a hit on centre court.

“With top players it’s obviously different when you train with them, playing practice sets, seeing where your game is at and working your way towards fine form for your first match.

“I think I’m on a good route to peak at Roland Garros in Paris. Hopefully here in Rome I can play better than I did in Monte-Carlo and that’s the wish, obviously, it’s always to go far. But let’s see.”

Stream top tennis action, including the 2024 French Open, live on discovery+, the Eurosport app and at

Related Articles