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Novak Djokovic sends two warnings to Rafael Nadal over US ban and French Open



Novak Djokovic has warned Rafael Nadal that he will be doing everything in his power to beat the Spaniard to this year’s French Open title despite being prevented from competing in the US over the last few weeks. The Serb was unable to play at Indian Wells and the Miami Open due to the government requirements in place across the Atlantic, which have stopped him from gaining entry into the country due to his refusal to be jabbed against COVID-19.

Djokovic will now be aiming to make a strong start to the clay-court swing at this week’s Monte Carlo Masters, although Nadal will not be playing as he continues to recover from the ongoing hip injury that curbed his efforts at the Australian Open in January. He has since been warned by Djokovic that his absence will serve as a boost for the latter and other players in their bid to stop him from winning the French Open, where he will be the favourite for the top honours if he is passed fit to compete in Paris.

“This is a loss for the tournament and tennis in general, because he is what he is, so far the greatest and most successful tennis player on clay of all time,” said Djokovic.

“We know how many times he won Monaco and all the other clay tournaments. On the other hand, it is an opportunity for all the rest of us, that when he is not there, we try to go as far as possible and win the title.

Djokovic went on to insist that he will be hoping to perform at his very best when the action begins at Roland Garros as he looks to deny Nadal another Grand Slam title by winning the tournament for the second year in a row.

“Things are not the same as 10 years ago in terms of that vital energy,” he added. “I don’t even have to be in a lot of tournaments anymore where I participate intensively, like some of the younger guys are doing now.

I choose where I participate and in which tournaments I want to be in top form. The Grand Slams are the tournaments where I want it and Roland Garros is next. It’s no secret, I want to play my best tennis there.”

It remains to be seen how Djokovic will fare when the French Open begins later this month as he aims to build on his Australian Open triumph back in January by clinching yet another Grand Slam title at the expense of Nadal. He managed to beat his Spanish rival in the quarter-finals of last year’s tournament and will be hoping that Nadal’s injury struggles will give him the best chance of doing so again if they end up facing each other in Paris at the next time of asking.

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