Roger Federer yesterday backed six-time champion Rafael Nadal to shatter Novak Djokovic’s historic bid to become the first man in 43 years to hold all four Grand Slam titles.
World number one Djokovic already has the Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open crowns in his possession and a first French Open triumph in two weeks’ time would make him the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete the sweep.
But Federer believes that it is Nadal, chasing an unprecedented seventh Roland Garros title, who will be making history here, and not the Serb. “Rafa is the favourite for me,” said Federer, the 2009 champion in Paris.
“I think he lost only two sets between Rome, Monte Carlo, and Barcelona, so that’s a pretty good start. Then he’s playing for his seventh title, so no discussion. We’re crazy to even talk about this. Some people might say he’s not the favourite, but to me he’s the favourite.
“I played him so many times here. I know how incredible he can be here in Roland Garros. “As for Novak, with all his results lately, he’s one of the big favourites. Likewise for me with everything I accomplished. But for me it would be Rafa, Novak, and me in third position.”
Of the seven men to win all the four majors in their careers, only Don Budge and Laver (twice) have held all four at the same time. Since Laver’s 1969 achievement, only Pete Sampras, Federer and Nadal have had opportunities to complete a non-calendar year Grand Slam.
I have more than I ever dreamt: Nadal
Rafael Nadal shrugged off his assault on a record seventh French Open title and admitted that by equalling Bjorn Borg’s six he had already defied his own expectations. Nadal said: “I’ve much more than I ever dreamt. I’m coming here with the motivation to play well. But I’m not going to be more motivated because I’ve six and I can win seven.”