Djokovic, French favourite, says Nadal


PARIS May 20 – Defending French Open champion Rafael Nadal heaped the pressure onto Novak Djokovic's shoulders on Thursday by insisting that the undefeated Serb is the favourite to win Roland Garros.World number two Djokovic has won all 37 matches he has played in 2011 and has defeated Nadal in the season’s four Masters finals, including on clay in Madrid and Rome.

"I think he is the great favourite. He hasn’t lost a match since the start of the year and he’s playing in an incredible way," said five-time French Open champion and world number one Nadal on a visit to the Champs Elysees.

"I do not fear Djokovic but you have to applaud his success since the beginning of the year. This will be very difficult to repeat. I admire what he has done."

Nadal also warned that his great rival Roger Federer, the 2009 champion and 16-time major winner, should not be ruled out as a contender when Roland Garros gets underway on Sunday.

"The Grand Slams are his speciality," said the Spaniard, who is one title away from equalling Bjorn Borg’s record of six wins in Paris.

Nadal added: "I am always motivated and impatient to get my first match started."

"There has been a lot of talk about the Borg record, but I am only thinking about winning the tournament. The record will be a consequence of that. I can think about it afterwards."

Nadal practised for the first time on Thursday at the Suzanne Lenglen Court at Roland Garros.

"I played for about two hours, but it’s too early to tell what the conditions are like. The balls seemed to bounce a little higher but it’ll take me a few more hours to know more."