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Nadal’s 19-15 against Djokovic, including 12-3 on clay, 6-3 in Grand Slam events and 4-0 at the French Open. Nadal won when they met in the final at Roland Garros a year ago.
But he bristled at the suggestion he’s the favorite this time.
"I don’t care at all," he said through a translator. "Frankly, what words could I find to tell you? I mean, what else can I say? I try and play my best tennis, and the least of my concerns is to know if I’m favored or not. These are words that will be carried away by the wind."
He knows too well that Djokovic’s dangerous even on Nadal’s best surface. The Serb won their most recent meeting six weeks ago in the Monte Carlo final on clay, although that was best-of-three sets, rather than the more grueling Grand Slam format that plays to Nadal’s strength.
"It’s tough to compare," Djokovic said. "It’s best-of-five here, Grand Slam, different conditions. But still, there is some kind of mental edge maybe if you win against or lose against somebody in the previous encounters. ... I have a good game for him because my style is to be aggressive, but I can also defend well and have that transition game. I’m going to be confident and step into the court with self-belief that I can win."
Djokovic has cause for confidence. The six-time Grand Slam champion has reached the semifinals at 12 consecutive major tournaments, and he’s 33-4 this year.
"I’m glad that I have been playing very consistent and always playing my best tennis in the Grand Slams," he said. "That’s what I want."
Roland Garros is the only major title he has yet to win, but with two more victories this week, he would become the eighth man to complete a career Grand Slam.
And he has beaten Nadal more than any other player.
"I know what it takes to win against him," Djokovic said.
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