Saturday, May 26, 2012

2012 FRENCH OPEN PREVIEW: Djokovic and Federer on collision course for a semi-final rematch

 Photo via FFT
Djokovic on the possibility of winning four Slams in a row

"It would definitely mean the world to me, but I haven't thought about that too much because I do not want to have too much unnecessary pressure. I don't need that at this moment because I already have enough. It's a unique opportunity. But the best tennis players in the world are playing here and you have to always put in an extra effort whoever you play against."

On who's favourite in Paris

"My mindset is always positive and always expecting from myself a lot. So I had the best year and a half of my career. I believe that I'm at the peak of my career at this moment. I definitely want to use this confidence that I have and try to make a good result here in Roland Garros. But for me, Rafa is always favourite for this tournament. He even was last year. Always No. 1 favourite because he's just what he is on clay courts, you know. He's most successful tennis player ever to play on this surface. He played well in the Rome final. Even though it was straight set win I thought we played a close match, but he was playing better. That's what you expect from him. You can always expect him to be at his top, especially at the later stages of Grand Slams and tournaments."

Djokovic's draw

Round 1 Potito Starace (ITA)
Round 2 Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) / Blaz Kavcic (SLO)
Round 3 Jurgen Melzer [30] (AUT)
Round 4 Fernando Verdasco [14] (ESP) / Ernests Gulbis (LAT)
QF Jo-Wilfried Tsonga [5] (FRA) / Gilles Simon [11] (FRA) / Stanislas Wawrinka [18] (SUI)
SF Roger Federer [3] (SUI)
F Rafael Nadal [2] (ESP) / Andy Murray [4] (GBR)

Match-up we want to see in this quarter
Fourth round: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga [5] (FRA) v Gilles Simon [11] (FRA)

Photo via FFT
Federer on who's favourite in Paris

"Rafa is the favourite for me. I think he lost only two sets between Rome, Monte Carlo, and Barcelona, so that's a pretty good start. Then he's playing for his seventh title, so no discussion. We're crazy to even talk about this. Some people might say he's not the favourite, but to me he's the favourite. I played him so many times here. I know how incredible he can be here in Roland Garros. As for Novak, with all his results lately, he's one of the big favourites. Likewise for me with everything I accomplished. But for me it would be Rafa, Novak, and me in third position."

On the possibility of Djokovic winning four in a row

"It's an amazing achievement in itself to win three in a row. Four in a row is just another amazing step. I think the toughest part is the very end, the back end of it I think. I've been there twice I think. I was twice in the finals, twice a couple sets away. Okay, I mean, I was playing Rafa here, which doesn't make it a whole lot easier. But, you know, it's easier to maybe start with the French in this era and then finishing it on the hard court. But it's amazing for tennis right now that we have Novak in this situation again where we had Rafa at the Australian Open last year, I think it was, and before that I had the chance a few times. So I think it's great for the sport. It will be interesting to follow Novak going for that. But the hard part is, I mean same for everyone... Every point you play, every game you play, the pressure you face, and just answering the questions time and time again, you know. It's fun because you're talking about the highest of accomplishments. But at the end of the day, you just like to play the matches and not talk about it that much."

On his fitness heading into the French Open

"Physically I'm fine. I feel really good. Much less problems than I had through Madrid and Rome. I took three days off after the Djokovic match from Rome and just came here and relaxed and started practicing Wednesday. So I feel right there where I want to be a few days before the event."

Federer's draw

Round 1 Tobias Kamke (GER)
Round 2 David Nalbandian (ARG) / Adrian Ungur (ROU)
Round 3 Andy Roddick [26] (USA)  / Nicolas Mahut (FRA)
Round 4 Feliciano Lopez [15] (ESP)

QF Tomas Berdych [7] (CZE) / Juan Martin del Potro [9] (ARG)
SF Novak Djokovic [1] (SRB)
F Rafael Nadal [2] (ESP) / Andy Murray [4] (GBR)

Match-up we want to see in this quarter
Fourth round: Tomas Berdych [7] (CZE) v Juan Martin del Potro [9] (ARG)

Photo via FFT
Murray on his semi-final run in Paris last year

"I think it helped my confidence in my clay-court game all-round - not just for this event, but coming into the season and in general. Last year was a tough event for me, one of the toughest Slams that I've played or done well in. There were a lot of positives to take from that event."

On his chances this year in Paris

"I feel like I can have a good run here. I'll obviously need to play good tennis, but last year definitely helped, because I wasn't 100 percent healthy during the event. Provided I don't have any injuries like that and I play some good tennis, there's no reason why I can't have another great tournament."

On what he needs to adjust to play on clay

"The movement is the thing that always takes me a while to get used to. Normally after a few weeks that's OK, but it's something I always try to work on a little bit when I'm training. When I'm on a hard court I don't work that much on my movement on the court, whereas on clay I tend to do a little bit of it in my fitness sessions.

On Rafa's dominance at Roland Garros

"I think the fact that he started at such a young age is what's most impressive. He won it when he was maybe 17 the first time, or 18. That, to me, is what's been most impressive about it. It's obviously still going, as well. I'm sure he'll have more great runs here. I'm sure he'll win the event a few more times probably before he finishes."

Murray's draw
Round 1 Tatsuma Ito (JAP)
Round 2 Jarko Nieminen (FIN) / Igor Andreev (RUS)
Round 3 Bernard Tomic [25] (AUS)
Round 4 Alexandr Dolgopolov [16] (UKR) / Richard Gasquet [17] (FRA)
QF John Isner [10] (USA) / David Ferrer [6] (ESP)
SF Rafael Nadal [2] (ESP)
F Novak Djokovic [1] (SRB) / Roger Federer [3] (SUI)

Match-up we want to see in this quarter
Third round: Alexandr Dolgopolov [16] (UKR) v Richard Gasquet [17] (FRA)

Photo via FFT
Nadal on a potential record-breaking seventh Roland Garros title

"I have much more than I ever dreamed. I am coming here every year with the motivation to play well. But I am not going to be more motivated because I have six and I can win seven. No. I was not more motivated when I arrived here in 2005 than today. I was not more motivated in 2010 when I lost in 2009. The motivation always is the same - sometimes you lose; sometimes you win. That's sport and that's the game.

On Djokovic's potential four in a row

"This one is not going to be more difficult because he already won three. When I went to Australia in 2011 with the chance to win four in a row, I felt zero extra pressure. Because when you start the tournament, you play day by day. I think about that tournament, not what happened in the past. You are there, you can win, you can lose. I got injured. I lost. That's it."

Nadal's draw
Round 1 Simone Bolelli (ITA)
Round 2 Denis Istomin (UZB) / Igor Kunitsyn (RUS)
Round 3 Florian Mayer [32] (GER)
Round 4 Juan Monaco [13] (ARG) / Milos Raonic [19] (CAN)
QF Janko Tipsarevic [8] (SRB) / Nicolas Almagro [12] (ESP)
SF Andy Murray [4] (GBR) / David Ferrer [6] (ESP)
F Novak Djokovic [1] (SRB) / Roger Federer [3] (SUI)

Match-up we want to see in this quarter
Third round: Milos Raonic [19] (CAN) v Juan Monaco [13] (ARG)

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