Spaniard faces tricky first-round match against un­pre­dictable French­man

New Straits Times - - Sport -

PARIS want to play against in the first round,” Nadal told a news con­fer­ence on Fri­day.

“A player with big tal­ent. Great serve, great hands. Fan­tas­tic back­hand, no? He is a dan­ger­ous op­po­nent. Yeah, that’s it. I need to play my best.”

Nadal, whose last ti­tle in Paris came in 2014, has again be­come the favourite af­ter strug­gling with form, reach­ing his first grand slam fi­nal in three years at the Aus­tralian Open in Jan­uary.

He went on to win three of the fol­low­ing four clay­court tour­na­ments he has en­tered, only los­ing to Do­minic Thiem in Rome.

“It feels right at this mo­ment be­cause I was, in the last, you know, five, six months, strug­gling a lit­tle bit on the court and try­ing to re-de­fine my­self, re­dis­cover what kind of ap­proach is the right one.”

Djokovic was out on court with 1999 cham­pion Agassi on Fri­day be­fore the draw cer­e­mony, where he was paired with Spaniard Mar­cel Gra­nollers.

“Right now I feel much bet­ter on the court,” Djokovic said. “I was talk­ing with An­dre for a cou­ple of weeks dur­ing Madrid and Rome on the phone, kind of pre­par­ing for the matches, analysing matches.

“It’s true that since the be­gin­ning of the sea­son, I am happy the way that I played. I think I play well in al­most ev­ery event that I have been in,” said Nadal, who turns 31 next month.

“I played well on hard. Then played great on clay. Happy about the events that I won. Three events I have won have

“That al­lowed both of us to get to know each other and for him to get closer to my think­ing and my mind­set.

“I was very glad that he ac­cepted to come in per­son in Paris and spend some time.”

Djokovic said he had shared some long con­ver­sa­tions with Agassi in Paris and that they had “clicked and con­nected.”

“He’s some­one that in­spires me a lot. That’s one of the things I felt like I needed is new in­spi­ra­tion, some­one that knows ex­actly what I’m go­ing through on the court.

“It brings a new di­men­sion of mo­ti­va­tion.” Reuters been very im­por­tant for me,” he added, re­fer­ring to the Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid ti­tles on his favourite sur­face.

The Rome de­feat against Thiem did not worry Nadal, who said it came at the end of a long se­ries of matches.

“In Rome I was a lit­tle bit tired men­tally more than phys­i­cally, be­cause it was a lot of days in a row play­ing at high in­ten­sity,” said Nadal.

“Now I am very tired be­cause it’s very, very warm here,” he joked.

“But that’s it. No, no, I am very happy the way that I ar­rived here. Now I have to play well here. That’s all.” Reuters

For­mer World No 1 An­dre Agassi has been drafted in to help No­vak Djokovic re­cap­ture his form.

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