• French Open

Nadal & Djokovic refuse to be burdened by milestones

ESPN staff
June 10, 2012
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are building a rivalry © PA Photos

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic can both reach substantial landmarks by winning Sunday's Roland Garros final, but neither man is ready to acknowledge the high stakes that are riding on their French Open showdown.

Nadal can break the Roland Garros record if he triumphs on Sunday, moving ahead of Bjorn Borg with seven French Open crowns. The Spaniard insists the record will not be on his mind when he steps on to the red clay.

"I have the chance to break the Borg record because I have already won six. The pressure is the same every year," Nadal said.

"I am here because I try my best every day and because I have a lot of motivation, the desire to try to win the tournament, not because it's the seventh, because it's Roland Garros. It's one of my top tournaments of the year, if not the most important.

"So seriously, the extra pressure for me is zero. In the end, if it finally happens, it's going to be another thing that maybe is important, maybe not that important. For me, the important thing is Roland Garros."

Djokovic can achieve a milestone that neither Nadal nor Roger Federer have managed if he wins in Paris, by holding all four grand slam titles simultaneously. However, much like Nadal, the Serbian refuses to contemplate the implications of victory.

"I'm not thinking about that. It's not about prestige or whatever, being better than one person. I'm thinking about myself, my career, and just trying to win every match that I play in," Djokovic said.

"And obviously I had a lot of doubts in the last couple of years if I can really overcome the big challenge of the two strongest players in our sport, the most dominant players in our sport.

"I've matured. I got stronger over the years. It's because of them, as well. They made me a better player."

Djokovic enters the contest as the world's No. 1 player, having won three slams last year, but he will be the underdog against a rival who has only lost once at Roland Garros in over 50 matches. Such statistics do not bother Djokovic, though, who takes a steely confidence into the final.

"I didn't expect to win every match until the end of our careers against him, even though I won seven in a row," he said.

"But I won against him on clay last year two times, back-to-back in eight days [in Madrid and Rome], and that's something that is in the back of my mind. That's something that can give me confidence, that I can think of when I step on the court with him.

"But obviously it is different because now it's best of five sets. He has lost one match in his career here. That says enough about his quality on this court. I lost to him here three times. I haven't won a set against him on this court. All the facts are on his side. But I feel different nowadays. I believe I'm at the peak of my career.

"I'm playing the best tennis of my life for the last year and a half, and I should use that as a confidence boost and try to get my hands on the title. Why not?"

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