Djokovic will be motivated by clay record against Nadal – Ferrero

By Nicholas McGee 23 May 2019 231
Djokovic will be motivated by clay record against Nadal – Ferrero

Novak Djokovic will be motivated to prove he can beat Rafael Nadal on clay as he seeks to dethrone the Spaniard in the French Open, according to former champion Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Nadal heads to Roland Garros seeking to extend his own record and win a 12th title on the red dirt in Paris.

Djokovic is one of only three plays to interrupt his reign at the tournament, doing so in 2016 by beating Andy Murray in the final, and will hold all four slams for the second time in his career if he regains the Coupe de Mousquetaires.

However, the Serbian lost each of his two French Open finals against Nadal in 2012 and 2014 and has won only seven of his 24 matches on clay during their long-standing rivalry, losing to the Spaniard in the final in Rome last weekend.

And Ferrero, a two-time finalist at Roland Garros, where he triumphed in 2003, believes Djokovic's bad record against Nadal on the surface will further fuel his desire to claim the title again.

Ferrero told Omnisport: "I think when the matches are up to five sets, Rafa is the main candidate if he is at 100 per cent. You need to constantly be at your highest level over a long time in order to beat Rafa on clay; over two, two and a half hours. 

"Rafa is aware of that and is able to take advantage of it. There are a few players who can do it, but there are some who need to have more confidence.

"Many players, when they play Rafa Nadal at Roland Garros, they arrive on the court a bit demotivated. And when things go a bit wrong, they know they're going to lose. 

"I think [Dominic] Thiem has more experience this year after playing the final last year and winning the Barcelona Open this season. You also have to put Djokovic on that list, and obviously the magician and undeniably the biggest talent, Roger [Federer].

"If he reaches full fitness, I am sure he will have a chance.

"[Djokovic] is very motivated. His goal is winning grand slams right now. He has already played an outstanding tournament at the Australian Open, especially remarkable was the amazing final he played [against Nadal]. 

"He will be at 100 per cent during Roland Garros, very motivated and trying to beat Rafa at a grand slam on clay. He's already had some chances, taking Rafa to the limit, at five sets.

"I'm sure he wants to prove he's not just able to beat Rafa on grass or a hard surface, but also on clay, he can beat him."

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Nicholas McGee