Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal may be on course for potentially the most talked-about clash at the French Open, but the World No 1 Serb yesterday gave the ‘N’ word the silent treatment.
Djokovic, the top seed, and Nadal, the third-seeded, seven-time Roland Garros champion, have been placed in the same half of the draw, which means that one of them is condemned to miss the June 9 final.
Having lost last year’s title match to the Spaniard, as well as all three of the pair’s earlier meetings in Paris, Djokovic told reporters he would not take questions on the prospect of another match-up with Nadal.
“Novak has requested he would like to answer only questions about his first round opponent, nothing else to do with the draw at all, top half, bottom half,” said a tournament news conference moderator. “And he’s asked his team not to mention anything about the draw, either. If you could respect that request. Thank you very much.”
Australian Open champion Djokovic was happy to talk up his own chances of winning the tournament, the only major missing from his collection. The World No 1 started the clay court season in impressive fashion, even ending Nadal’s hopes of a ninth successive Monte Carlo title in a straight-sets final win.
“I won a Grand Slam. I won Monte Carlo. That was important for my confidence level. Prior to Roland Garros, that is the most important tournament on clay, and I won against the best player on this surface, Nadal. “So that win against him can give me the necessary self-belief prior to this tournament.”
Djokovic begins his French Open campaign against Belgium’s David Goffin.
Novak Djokovic (1) vs David Goffin
Rafael Nadal (3) vs Daniel Brands
Marinko Matosevic vs David Ferrer (4)
Qualifier vs Roger Federer (2)