'Long shot': Novak Djokovic's staggering French Open admission

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·Sports Reporter
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Novak Djokovic (pictured left) embracing Rafael Nadal (pictured right) after losing at the Italian Openn.
Novak Djokovic (pictured left) said he is a "long shot" to win Roland Garros with Rafael Nadal (pictured right) in the picture. (Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic feels he is a 'long shot' in his bid to win the 2021 French Open and get one step closer to Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer's Grand Slam tally.

Djokovic may be World No.1, but it's Nadal who is the undisputed king of clay in the French capital where he has lost just twice in 102 matches since 2005.

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On Sunday, Djokovic again felt the full, raw power of Nadal on clay as the Spaniard clinched a 10th Italian Open title with a 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 win in the final.

This also drew Nadal level with 36 Masters 1000 titles with Djokovic and the World No.1 only leads their head-to-head record by one win after the pair's 57th meeting.

Djokovic was impressive during the final and admitted he is on the right path to push Nadal and the other contenders at Roland Garros.

But he also feels he is a "long shot" to wrestle the title out of Nadal's hands.

"I actually now started to feel like I actually want to feel on clay," added Djokovic.

"So I think if I manage to play the way I played last night (against Lorenzo Sonego in a three-set semi-final) and today, I think I have a good chance to go all the way in Paris.

"Of course it's a long shot."

Djokovic and Nadal's different Roland Garros prep

Following his loss to the Spaniard, Djokovic is set to compete back home at the Belgrade Open to gain more match practice on the red surface.

Meanwhile, for Nadal, Roland Garros, which gets underway on May 30, means a chance for a 14th Paris title and record 21st Grand Slam crown.

"I really wanted this title," Nadal, 34, said Sunday after winning his 10th Rome trophy.

"This had been one of the first important titles I won in my career. I'd won 10 in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Roland Garros and really wanted this one too."

Nadal will head home to Mallorca to fine-tune his game.

"I think I have been improving this week, but I need to keep going with that improvement," he said Sunday.

"When you improve and you're able to do it every day for a longer time, then you feel more confident and more safe."

with AFP

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