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Novak Djokovic already thinking ahead to Rafael Nadal French Open battle at Italian Open

Novak Djokovic has admitted he is already looking ahead to the French Open, where he will look to dethrone the ‘King of Clay’ himself Rafael Nadal. The clay-court season’s first tournament saw both Djokovic and Nadal claim routine victories on Wednesday to cruise through to the third round of the Italian Open.

The Rome Masters precedes the rescheduled French Open, the third Grand Slam of the 2020 calendar year.

Last week, Dominic Thiem was triumphant to claim his first career major at the US Open, where Nadal was absent due to coronavirus concerns and Djokovic was defaulted after unintentionally striking a ball umpire in the neck.

It ended the Serbian’s 29-match-winning streak and also his hopes of moving within one Slam triumph of Nadal and two of all-time record-holder Roger Federer, out for the rest of 2020 after knee surgery.

He had been the major favourite to be victorious but had to watch Thiem defeat Alexander Zverev in the final instead.

Djokovic got back out on court for the first time since the drama of his New York exit to beat Italy’s Salvatore Caruso 6-3, 6-2.

While Nadal was triumphant against his countryman Pablo Carreno Busta in his first ATP Tour match since February, winning 6-1, 6-1 with his fellow Spaniard perhaps suffering from his run to the US Open semi-finals just last week before he fell to Zverev in the final four.

And with Roland Garros, where Nadal is the reigning champion and a record 12-time winner, beginning just next week, Djokovic admits he is hoping to use his time in Rome to be going to Paris in peak condition knowing he could come up against his long-time rival in the latter stages of the tournament – just as he could in Italy.

Nadal is near undefeatable at the French Open but Djokovic did eliminate him from his favoured tournament on the red clay in the 2015 quarter-finals, only to lose to Stan Wawrinka in the final. 

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The 33-year-old, who won the Australian Open before the COVID-19 pandemic, said of his recent winning run ending with his US Open default: “I don’t consider myself unbeaten in general, everybody is beatable.

“I know I didn’t finish the match at the US Open and officially it is the first loss of the year so that is fine, I don’t pay attention to that anymore.

“The important thing is the confidence is still there regardless of the change of surface, I still feel confident and comfortable with my game.

Source:Daily Express :: Sport Feed

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