Goran Ivanisevic has surprisingly backed the "incredible" Rafael Nadal as the French Open favourite over his charge Novak Djokovic.
World No. 1 Djokovic could be set to face his great rival in the quarter-finals in what is a very lopsided men's draw at Roland-Garros with rising Spanish star Carlos Alcaraz also in that half of the bracket and a potential opponent in the semi-finals.
Despite the fact that the Serb has been declared the favourite to defend his title on the red dirt in Paris after he defeated Nadal in the semi-finals last year, Ivanisevic has backed the Spaniard as being the man to beat.
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Perhaps the former Wimbledon champion is just attempting to pile the pressure on Nadal and ease the burden of expectation on Djokovic, who leads the pair's head-to-head record 30-28, but either way, his views come as somewhat of a surprise.
"When I saw the draw, to be honest, I said, ‘okay, Nadal is going to get to the final', and so Novak was out,” Ivanisevic told L’Equipe.
"For me, there is only one favourite at Roland Garros and that is Nadal. Even with what has happened with his foot in Rome, I always think that.
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"Injured, not injured, he is always the favourite here. It is his home, his court. He knows all the good bounces, all the bad bounces, every nook and cranny.
"Whether he plays well or badly, under the sun or not, it changes nothing. Rafa is incredible. I have enormous respect for him.
"In the final [of the Australian Open], [Daniil] Medvedev could not close the match and you must never do that against Rafa! Anyway, I said seven or eight years ago that Rafa and Novak would have more than 20 Grand Slam titles, and we are there with Nadal."
Ivanisevic will certainly hope that we will be there with Djokovic too by the end of this fortnight with his charge looking to level with Nadal on 21 Grand Slam singles titles.
The 34-year-old Djokovic, who will make his Grand Slam return having missed the Australian Open, will open up with a match against Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan, while Nadal will take on Australia's Jordan Thompson first up.
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