A psychological ploy? Novak Djokovic’s coach declares Rafael Nadal the favorite in the French Open 2022

Rafael Nadal is not an overwhelming favorite in the French Open for the first time, but Novak Djokovic's coach Goran Ivanisevic thinks otherwise.

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal
Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal and the French Open are synonymous with each other. The Spaniard has won the title a record 13 times at the Phillipe-Chatrier. Rafa is always a force to reckon with on clay, but on the French clay, he is somewhat invincible. His win-loss record in the French Open stands at a ginormous 105-3. Out of those three losses, one was in the semifinals of the 2021 edition at the hands of the eventual champion, Novak Djokovic.

This year, Rafa is not the overwhelming favorite he used to be because of many different reasons, including the chronic foot pain which made an appearance in the Italian Open, causing Nadal some discomfort and a loss in the match against Denis Shapovalov. On the other hand, Djokovic won that tournament and has arrived in Paris in the best shape and with a title in the bag.

There’s also a young and hungry Spaniard not much different from Nadal named Carlos Alcaraz in the mix, who will be looking to win the French Open as a symbol of the passing of the baton from Rafa. All of these favorites are placed in the same part of the draw, meaning they will most likely be up against each other in the quarterfinals and the semifinals at Roland-Garros.

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“Rafael Nadal is always a favorite at the French Open” Goran Ivanisevic

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal with the French Open trophy

Even with some problems that Rafa would have to tackle to be competitive against Djokovic and Alcaraz, Novak’s coach Goran Ivanisevic has declared that he believes that Rafa is still the favorite at the Roland-Garros. In an interview with  L’Equipe Ivanisevic remarked: “When I saw the draw, to be honest, I said, ‘okay, Nadal is going to get to the final’, and so Novak was out,”  Although it sounds a little too dismissive of Djokovic, but Goran continued as he said:

“For me, there is only one favourite at Roland Garros and that is Nadal. Even with what has happened with his foot in Rome, I always think that. Injured, not injured, he is always the favourite here. It is his home, his court. He knows all the good bounces, all the bad bounces, every nook and cranny.”

“Whether he plays well or badly, under the sun or not, it changes nothing. Rafa is incredible. I have enormous respect for him.”

All of these comments from Ivanisevic are perfectly reasonable and accurate for Rafa, but there might also be psychological warfare at play here, with Novak looking to get the better of Rafa once again, if they meet in the quarterfinals at Stade Roland Garros. Ivanisevic continued:

“In the final [of the Australian Open], [Daniil] Medvedev could not close the match and you must never do that against Rafa! Anyway, I said seven or eight years ago that Rafa and Novak would have more than 20 Grand Slam titles, and we are there with Nadal.”

It would indeed be an interesting and spectacular encounter if Nadal is 100% fit and if Djokovic and Nadal once again lock horns at the Phillipe-Chatrier.

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