Novak Djokovic won a record-breaking 36th ATP Masters 1000 title at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, but the World No. 1 is not ready to name himself the favourite for Roland Garros next week.
“It’s [Rafael] Nadal. Even though he lost this week, I still think a lot of people will agree, he’s the No. 1 favourite and the record that he has there, the history of his results, you just can’t put anybody in front of him,” Djokovic said. “Definitely Diego showed that Nadal is beatable on clay. The conditions that they played on, obviously heavy clay, not much bounce, humid, night session, we are going to have that as well in Paris.
“I’m pretty sure that he does not prefer that to a high bounce. I know he likes the high bounce. He likes the hot and warm and fast conditions, where he can use his spin a lot. Let’s see. It’s going to be interesting. I think even though he’s the No. 1 favourite, I think there are players that can win against him there.”
Watch Rome Final Highlights:
Diego Schwartzman defeated Nadal in the quarter-finals at the Foro Italico en route to his first Masters 1000 final. But Nadal has been nearly unbeatable on the Parisian clay, lifting the Coupe des Mousquetaires 12 times and tallying a 93-2 record at the clay-court Grand Slam.
“I cannot hope for Rafa not being in the finals,” Djokovic said, cracking a laugh. “I can hope for myself being in the final and fighting for the trophy. That’s probably the player that has the highest chance of being in the final in the French Open, and any tournament, for that matter.”
For now, Djokovic is happy with winning his second Masters 1000 title since the ATP Tour resumed last month. This week is the Serbian’s 287th atop the FedEx ATP Rankings, moving him past his idol, Pete Sampras, for second place on the all-time list. If Djokovic maintains his position at World No. 1, he will surpass Roger Federer’s record of 310 weeks on 8 March 2021.
“The historic No. 1 ranking goal is something that is on the horizon, and I’m going to give my all and very best that I can possibly give in the next period to achieve that,” Djokovic said. “I can’t [look] too far [ahead], and I don’t know what years to come will bring for me and just tennis and the world in general.”
Watch Djokovic’s Drop Shots Against Schwartzman:
While history is of the utmost importance to Djokovic, he knows he must stay in the moment to play his best tennis.
It wasn’t always easy for the 33-year-old in Italy, where he lost a set in the quarter-finals and battled through tough opening sets in the third round, semi-finals and final. But Djokovic found a way to play his best tennis in crucial moments to triumph for a fifth time at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
“I feel good,” Djokovic said. “Of course this gives me even more confidence that is absolutely necessary for a Grand Slam.”