Spaniard Rafael Nadal has said that being the favourite for the French Open title this year “does not matter."
Nadal has won at Roland Garros nine times and dispatched Serbian Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 in the semis in 2008, a match he has fond memories of on his way to French Open glory.
That 2008 win against Djokovic is the Spaniard's favourite at the French Open, and he told the pre-event press conference that he probably played one of his best matches that day.
“I think, probably, was the semi-final match against Djokovic, 2008,” said Nadal.
For Nadal, it has been a while since he tasted success at Roland Garros. The Spaniard crashed out the tournament in the third round last year against compatriot Marcel Granollers.
It is not an experience he wants to repeat and told the conference in Paris that: “I hope that the story don't repeat.”
Nadal has been on fire on the clay courts this year, winning in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, and Madrid, and managing to make it to the semi-final in Rome only to lose to the impressive 23-year-old Austrian Dominic Thiem.
The 30-year-old Balearic islander also dismissed claims that his performances this year meant that he was favourite to win the French Open for the 10th time, and said: “Doesn't matter what you say, what you don't say, no?
“At the end of the day, for me the only important thing is arrive here, play well.
“If I am playing well, doesn't matter if you believe or you don't believe that I am one of the candidates or not.
“I have to play. The only way to have chances, real chances to play [a] good event, is play very well, be healthy and then be with the right attitude.
"That's the only way to try to have success here, and I am focused on [trying] to do that.”
First up for Nadal is world no.44 Frenchman Benoit Paire, who has never been past the third round of any Open championship.
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