“He is the main favourite to win the title – it wouldn't be fair to pick anybody else but him,” declared Djokovic in his first public words at Roland-Garros. “Lots of respect for him, obviously, as always. We had a good match in Rome. He was a better player. Was just too strong. I felt like I had a fantastic couple weeks in Madrid and Rome, and I probably ran out of gas a little bit in the finals with a couple of long matches and late-night finishes. Overall very positive weeks, and it's a great lead-up to what's coming up here.”
Robin Soderling – who shares with the Serb the distinction of having inflicted defeat upon Nadal at Roland-Garros – believes no player other than Djokovic can topple the 11-time champion here, despite Tsitsipas’s achievement in Madrid.
“He's beaten him many times on clay, beat him once [in 2015] in Paris as well,” said Soderling, who downed Nadal here 10 years ago. “He's maybe the only guy right now that has the chance to stand up against Nadal on clay. If he plays his best tennis as he did in Melbourne in the final against Rafa, where he just crushed him then of course he can beat him on clay as well.”
Djokovic, who turned 32 this week, says he has been preparing to peak at Roland-Garros.
“This is the tournament I have been preparing for,” he said. “Twelve months ago, the situation was quite different. Now I hold three slams and being No.1 of the world, obviously I have more confidence, and hopefully I can have a good two weeks.
"I love playing in Roland Garros always throughout my career, and especially in the last four or five years I received a lot of support from the French crowd. Because of that support, I managed to win this title in 2016.
"Holding all four slams three years ago gives me enough reason to believe I can do it again.”