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DelPotro: Nadal Still "Big Favorite" for RG Title

Juan Martin del Potro says that Rafael Nadal is still a “big favorite” to win Roland Garros, despite the fact that the King of Clay has entered Rome without a title to his name for the first time since 2004.

Del Potro, who made his return to the clay at Madrid last week and fell to Laslo Djere in his first match, has been drawn to meet the winner of the Stan Wawrinka – David Goffin match in the second round at this week's Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome.

Del Potro says it’s still too early to worry about Nadal.

“I don't think it's weird that Rafa doesn't win a tournament on clay yet,” Nadal said. “Many players are playing good on clay.”

Del Potro says that there’s a massive difference between notching a win over Nadal in a three-set match on the Road to Roland Garros than actually defeating him in a best-of-five format on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Tennis Express

“But I think to my point of view, he's still a big favorite to win Roland Garros once again,” Del Potro said. “What I say all the time: you can beat Rafa once, but to beat Rafa in Grand Slam, in Paris, is another big challenge for us. We will see what happen.”

Nadal, who has dropped semi-finals in each of his first three clay-court events of 2019, is slated to face wither Richard Gasquet or Jeremy Chardy in the second round. He has been drawn into the same quarter as Dominic Thiem.

Nadal himself has shown signs of concern about his form thus far on clay, but he says that he has made strides, even if he isn’t exactly where he wants to be at this stage of the season.

“I think I have done a few steps forward, maybe not enough, but I have improved some things and we will see until when I can be able to play at a high level and I think I will be able to continue,” he said. “And if I'm not able to do these things properly, that is the end of the situation, period. We don't have to make any drama or over-think when things are going bad. It is a sport and in a sport it's a matter of winning and sometimes losing and accepting both as naturally as possible.”