Novak Djokovic’s "champion" mentality and experience can drive him to contend for a third French Open title, reckons Alex Corretja.
Djokovic has won Roland-Garros twice and is one of the leading contenders to lift the trophy following the withdrawal of 14-time champion Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic has not had the best clay preparation, losing early in Monte Carlo and Bosnia-Herzegovina before withdrawing from Madrid and then making the quarter-finals in Rome.
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However, among the top players he has by far the most experience at the French Open, and Eurosport expert Corretja thinks that will count for something as he bids for a record 23rd Grand Slam title.
“He knows how to win [at Roland-Garros], he has done it already twice and he has won so many majors, he knows how to deal with the pressure even though he didn't have an unbelievable clay-court season," said Corretja.
“He is going little by little and he will increase his level. He knows how to be the favourite of the tournament, and I think Novak is going to be ready to do well.
"I'm sure that he's been preparing this season that he’s going to get to Paris and he's going to find his peak at the tournament, and even if he struggles at some moments or whatever, he will find a way. He's a champion.
“He knows how to deal with those moments where there are some questions. And then he will be ready for the important matches. He's very stable, because physically he's strong and because mentally he's like a machine. So he knows how to deal with those moments.
“I think if Novak doesn't have any issues, I'm sure he's going to be a big contender for the title.”
Djokovic will enter the Grand Slam as the third seed behind Daniil Medvedev and world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz.
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Alcaraz has been in superb form this year but suffered a shock defeat in his last outing at the Italian Open against world No. 135 Fabian Marozsan.
Corretja thinks that loss could have come at a good time for Alcaraz.
“For me it was the best thing it could happen to him," the two-time French Open finalist said. "Now, he had time off, he rested and he is going to be much fresher for Roland-Garros.
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“He has spent a few days relaxing and he’s practising again to be ready for the tournament. So there is no alarm, there are no worries, it is the opposite. It puts him in the situation of being careful because everybody plays very well and you can be surprised from anyone in the tournament.
“So I think it's a good notice for him to understand that he needs to continue doing his things, but knowing that everybody plays well.
“I think he already knew that, but this loss puts him in the spot of ‘OK, I cannot let myself relax because everybody plays unbelievable tennis’.”
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Corretja also thinks Alcaraz will handle the pressure of being the top seed and main Spanish focus with Nadal out.
He said: “He had the experience from last year at Roland-Garros, where it was pretty much the first time that he was in the big spot to see if he can do well. And he's going to deal with the situation in a totally different way.
“He is going to be more relaxed from the very first round. Even if he needs to win and to suffer, he will be ready for that.
“He knows already that a lot of attention is going to be on his shoulders because, especially for the Spanish press, there is no Rafa there. But I think he is totally ready. He has been dealing with the situation extremely well. And I think he is absolutely ready to do well at Roland-Garros.”
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