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Jim Courier Backs Nishikori as Second French Open Favorite

Speaking ahead of this year’s French Open, two-time French Open Jim Courier champion joined the growing party of Rafael Nadal naysayers by saying that Novak Djokovic is the clear favorite in Paris. But he does believe that Nadal’s chances of winning a tenth Roland Garros title are increased by the fact that he’ll be playing best-of-five format in his favorite setting.

Federer: Nadal Still Roland Garros Favorite

"For the first time in many years Nadal will not be the favorite going into Roland Garros," Courier said, according to Eurosport. "That role is now firmly occupied by Novak Djokovic. Nadal is less vulnerable in Paris, given the best of five-set format which allows him more time to problem solve but there are now guys in the locker room who see him as an opportunity rather than an immovable obstacle."

Courier, who was the last man to win the first two majors of a calendar year in 1992, believes that Andy Murray has a chance to make the final, but he’s even more enthusiastic about the chances of Kei Nishikori, who he sees as the second-best clay-courter in tennis right now.

"Murray is most certainly a threat to go very deep and, if the draw breaks in his favor, a final is attainable," Courier said. "Once you reach the final, anything goes -- especially now that Nadal is playing like a mortal on the clay again.”

He added: "Kei Nishikori is my second favorite behind Djokovic and I firmly believe he is the second best clay-court player today."