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Novak Djokovic named French Open favourite ahead of Rafael Nadal by former Pro Nick Lester

According to Nick Lester, it was imperative that Djokovic won in Rome ahead of Roland Garros.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal

Novak Djokovic, according to former tennis player and broadcaster Nick Lester, has rediscovered his form ahead of the year’s second Major.

Novak Djokovic defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-0 7-6(5) in an hour and 36 minutes to win his first title of the year. In the second set, the world No. 1 was down 2-5 before mounting an amazing comeback to capture his 38th Masters 1000 championship and sixth in Rome.

Djokovic and Tsitsipas were meeting for the sixth time, and the first since the Greek squandered a two-set lead in last year’s French Open final, allowing the world No. 1 to win his 19th Grand Slam trophy. Tsitsipas had never beaten the Serb on clay before, and the Serb took his time winning the Italian Open.

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Nick Lester snubs Rafael Nadal for Novak Djokovic as French Open favourite

Novak Djokovic

Nick Lester remarked on the Tennis Talk podcast that his run to the final in Belgrade helped lay the groundwork for his semifinal appearance in Madrid and win in the Italian Open without dropping a set. Djokovic appears to be back on track, according to Lester.

“He played three or four matches (Belgrade Open), all of them going three sets, that really gave him a foundation to work with, he got better in Madrid, and this week didn’t drop a set on the way, I think this is the 11th time that he has won a Masters without dropping a set. So, you know, the couple of elements that were really good, the return of serve is back to where he was, the depth that he is getting in the return of serve completely neutralizes what Tsitsipas did today. So, Djokovic is in a very good place now going into Roland Garros.

“Where he’s at right now, I find it very hard to see Rafa winning Roland Garros at the moment, which obviously is a fairly big statement. But I think physically he’s in a bad place. You go back to 2005-06 – the first time the foot was diagnosed, and he has carried that injury his whole career. He’s just managed it well. I’m not so sure he’s managing it very well at the moment,” said Lester.

Novak Djokovic has had a hit-or-miss year so far due to his lack of vaccinations, which has prevented him from defending his Australian Open title or competing in the Sunshine Double. Djokovic needed to win in Rome before Roland Garros, according to Nick Lester. As proven by his six triumphs in the competition, the World No. 1 often peaks at the Italian Open before heading to the French Open.

Lester explained: “Massive week for him, absolutely massive. How often he finds his mojo in Rome, I mean, if you look back through the years, coming into the French, he tends to start the clay-court season a little slow, Monte Carlo has not been his most successful venue and of course, this year coming in under a very different set of circumstances,” Lester stated.

“I think we underestimated a little bit of what the opening three months did to him. Not necessarily emotionally but physically. Not being able to play those first three months just didn’t have the match time and the physicality that we have become so accustomed to seeing. I think the big week for him was Belgrade actually. He had so many good matches in Belgrade on home soil there,” the Brit concluded.

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