Top tennis coach Patrick Mouratoglou has explained why he believes Novak Djokovic is still the best player in the world, even on clay and ahead of Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic has not yet taken any of the available vaccines against Covid-19 and looks unlikely to do so, but he appears set to play at Roland Garros in May, despite not having been able to participate in numerous tournaments over the last few months including, most notably, the Australian Open.
Nadal, meanwhile, memorably became the first male player to clinch 21 Grand Slam singles titles by winning the Australian Open in January, but he has since suffered an injury setback that may continue to hamper his preparations for his favourite tournament in Paris.
'One of the greatest of all time' – Nadal on 'inspirational' Williams
Djokovic beat Nadal in a classic battle on the red dirt at the French Open last year as he took his second Paris crown. This year, however, he will have to find form in a very condensed period in the ATP Tour calendar if he is to find his best play once more.
Renowned tennis coach Mouratoglou has shared his views ahead of Roland Garros on his Instagram page, and he made it abundantly clear that he still believes Djokovic is the best male player in the world, even on Nadal's favourite surface.
"Roland Garros is the most open it has been in the last 10-15 years," Mouratoglou said in the video posted on Instagram.
"If Novak Djokovic is able to win a lot between the start of the clay season and Roland Garros, then it won’t be that open because Novak, when he is at his best, even on clay, I think he is the best player in the world.
"I know it’s weird to say that when you see the number of Roland Garros that Rafa has won, but if you look at the figures, Novak beats Rafa many times on clay.
"If they have to play each other in the last stages of Roland Garros this year, last year’s match will count in their minds 100%.
"Rafa is going to be tense and Novak [Djokovic] will be much more aggressive because he will be more confident going against Rafa.”
Nadal has said that he will have no problem seeing Djokovic take part in Grand Slams if he can do so unvaccinated, something which appears to be possible for Roland Garros.
"It will affect Novak's [Grand Slam] history if he can't play," Nadal said. "It will affect him, not the Grand Slams themselves.
'That was just ridiculous' - Djokovic's top five shots in 2021
"Whoever wins the most Slams - it will be what it will be. Everyone takes their own decisions and must live with them.
"In that sense, hopefully, the pandemic subsides and we stop having so many deaths around the world and this horror ends, and we can return to normality - not for Novak but for the world in general.
"There are many people that have suffered, but if Novak can play the Grand Slams unvaccinated, then he is welcome."
- Clay power rankings: Who can topple Swiatek, Djokovic?
- Gilbert unsure Djokovic will dominate clay after 'mentally taxing' year
- ‘Djokovic suddenly becomes favourite’ – Wilander backs Serb for 21st Grand Slam
He added: "Absolutely nothing has changed having 21 slams, I won't lie to you.
"From 20 to 21 there is not a very large difference. Life goes on exactly the same. The only thing that has changed is that now I play tennis, which a few months ago I couldn't.
"I am very happy for everything that happened in Australia, it was very unexpected, especially before the tournament started. In my life, nothing has changed. No title is going to change what is important in my life, which are other things.
"Already, at 35 years old, I have a lot of experiences behind me, of successes and bad moments and these sensations already help me to live in a more calm and different way."
Nadal's Top 5 shots on his way to winning the Australian Open
- - -
Stream the 2022 French Open live and on-demand on discovery+
How Nadal can return to world No. 1 at Cincinnati Masters for first time since 2020
'It’s BS' – McEnroe says Djokovic should be allowed to play US Open
Share this article