Current world number one Novak Djokovic has declared Rafa Nadal as the clear favourite for the upcoming French Open.
The Roland Garros tournament commences on Sunday with 11-time French Open champion Nadal chasing his third consecutive title.
Djokovic is aiming to hold all four major titles, having won the Australian Open earlier this year along with Wimbledon and the US Open last year.
Nadal’s record in Paris speaks for itself although he hadn’t won a single title on clay this calendar year, until making a statement with a three-set win over Djokovic in Rome on Sunday to win the Italian Open.
“Nadal is the number one favourite (for the French Open) without a doubt and then everyone else,” Djokovic said.
Djokovic won the French Open crown in 2016, his only triumph at Roland Garros, while the past two years he’s been knocked out in the quarters.
Last year’s beaten finalist Dominic Thiem, who is currently ranked fifth on the ATP Tour, will be among the candidates for the title. The Austrian was beaten in straight sets by Nadal in last year’s decider.
World number four Roger Federer cannot be discounted too, having won the French Open once in 2009. He hasn’t played in the past two French Opens but is back in Paris and should be ready despite a foot injury hampering him in Rome.
The 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka may have fallen outside the top 300 in recent years due to injuries but will be seeded and a dark horse. He’ll play in Geneva this week.
Greek clay court specialist Stefanos Tsitsipas is also a contender, having emerged into the world number three ranking.
Djokovic added: “Dominic Thiem is playing some really good tennis. He can beat anybody, especially on clay.
“[Fabio] Fognini is also playing very well. He showed against Nadal in Monte Carlo what he is capable of.
“On a given day, best of five with just one day between matches, I think players will have enough time to be at their best.”
“Everyone is trying to peak for Roland Garros without a doubt. I am looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be a great tournament.”
Seven-time Grand Slam winner Mats Wilsander weighed in and claimed Djokovic was the favourite to win, fresh from also lifting the Madrid Open title over Tsitsipas.
“I see Novak first on the men’s side,” Wilander said. “He has won the last three Grand Slam titles but he has not played in a brilliant way between.”