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Paris – Roger Federer on Friday backed six-time champion Rafael Nadal to shatter Novak Djokovic's historic bid to become the first man in 43 years to hold all four Grand Slam titles.
World number one Djokovic already has the Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open crowns in his possession and a first French Open triumph in two weeks' time would make him the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete the sweep.
But Federer believes that it is Nadal, chasing an unprecedented seventh Roland Garros title, who will be making history here, and not the Serb.
“Rafa is the favourite for me,” said Federer, the 2009 champion in Paris.
“I think he lost only two sets between Rome, Monte Carlo, and Barcelona, so that's a pretty good start.
“Then he's playing for his seventh title, so no discussion. We're crazy to even talk about this. Some people might say he's not the favourite, but to me he's the favourite.
“I played him so many times here. I know how incredible he can be here in Roland Garros.
“As for Novak, with all his results lately, he's one of the big favourites. Likewise for me with everything I accomplished. But for me it would be Rafa, Novak, and me in third position.”
Of the seven men to win all the four majors in their careers, only Don Budge and Laver (twice) have held all four at the same time.
Since Laver's 1969 achievement, only Pete Sampras, Federer and Nadal have had opportunities to complete a non-calendar year Grand Slam.
Sampras lost to Jim Courier in the quarter-finals at Roland Garros in 1994; Federer lost to Nadal in the final at the 2006 and 2007 French Open while Nadal lost to David Ferrer in the quarter-finals at the 2011 Australian Open.
“To win three in a row is amazing and a fourth would be an amazing step,” added Federer.
“The toughest part is the back end of it. Twice I was close, just a couple of sets away playing Rafa here which didn't make it any easier. But it's amazing for tennis to have Novak in this situation.”
Djokovic has yet to make the final in Paris, having fallen three times at the semi-final stage and on Friday, he was keen to shrug off the expectations.
“It would definitely mean the world to me, but I haven't thought about that too much because I do not want to have too much unnecessary pressure. I don't need that at this moment because I already have enough,” said the top seed.
“It's a unique opportunity. But the best tennis players in the world are playing here and you have to always put in an extra effort whoever you play against.” – Sapa-AFP