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French Open: Djokovic has Nadal on his radar

Last updated on: June 1, 2010 16:19 IST

Djokovic believes he can tame Nadal

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Late riser Novak Djokovic knows at least one thing might play in his favour if he gets through to the French Open semi-finals to face Rafael Nadal - he may not have to play before lunchtime.

With a fourth Roger vs Rafa final in five years looming, the World No 3 still believes he has what it takes to see off the Spaniard, once he gets past his quarter-final with Austrian Jurgen Melzer.

Nadal has stood in the Serbian's way to the final three times.

He lost all three to the mighty Mallorcan, retiring from their quarter-final contest in 2006 and losing in straight sets in the semi-finals in 2007 and 2008.


Image: Novak Djokovic
Photographs: Reuters
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'Any time you wake him up, he is going to play the same'

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Djokovic, however, can take comfort from two things.

He has beaten Nadal in their last three meetings and the semi-finals at Roland Garros do not usually start before 1400 local time.

"I'm really not a morning person, so it took a lot of time for me to get into the rhythm and warm up basically for the match," he said after his 6-4, 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 fourth-round victory against American Robby Ginepri on Monday.

Djokovic is well aware this kind of mishap is not allowed against Nadal.

"Any time you wake him up, he is going to play the same," he joked.

"I think it's normal to talk about a Federer-Nadal final. I mean, since both of them have been so dominant in last five years.

"It's nothing unusual, and people expect that. They have played so many Grand Slam finals in the last four, five years."


Image: Novak Djokovic

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Djokovic never had the upper hand on clay

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Although Djokovic beat Nadal in the ATP Tour finals in London, in the Paris and Cincinnati Masters last year, he has never had the upper hand on clay.

But he came close.

"I'm in this small group of players behind them that is trying to get that final and force something surprising, something that people don't expect," he said.

Djokovic never beat Nadal on clay, though, in nine previous attempts. He is not so worried, having pushed him in Hamburg two years ago and Madrid last year.

"That was a great match in Hamburg but I think even better was in Madrid last year where I had three match points," he recalled.


Image: Novak Djokovic

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'You need to be aggressive against him'

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"It was obvious after that match we both kind of lost our rhythm on the court physically, emotionally, and mentally, however you want to put it.

"We were exhausted and left out of the tank, and we didn't make such a great results after that. But it was a match to remember.

"Of course, for me, not in the best way, because I think that was the closest that I got to win against Nadal on clay."

If he manages to hold off Melzer's attacking game in the next round, Djokovic will have another go at the master.

"In case I get to play him here in Paris, definitely I will try to play a similar game that I played in Madrid, because you need to be aggressive against him," he said.


Image: Novak Djokovic

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