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Given Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are the only two men to win the Italian Open title since 2004, a lot could depend on a potential match this Friday.
The pair begin their campaigns on Wednesday with Nadal taking on Philipp Kohlschreiber and Novak Djokovic in action against qualifier Stephane Robert.
They have been put in the same quarter of the draw and it is not something that overly delights Nadal, who won here in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013.
“No. No, no, for sure I’m not happy,” he said when asked about a potential match-up with the reigning champion. “But the real thing is I’m not going to play against Novak tomorrow. I’m going to play against Kohlschreiber. He’s playing great.
“He won in Munich couple of weeks okay and played semifinals in Barcelona too. He’s playing well and he’s a very good player on clay. I am worried about that now.
“My game is good, no? Three tournaments, two victories, one semifinal. Tough tournaments, good victories, good matches. If I not happy now, I don’t know when I’m going to be happy, no?
“This is a different tournament, different conditions. You arrive with not the perfect timing to prepare for the next one, but at the same time is a tournament that I know very well, and it’s obvious that the first round is a difficult one.”
Djokovic arrives in Rome on the back of success in Madrid, but insists he is not feeling fatigued and his only focus this week is on the red clay of the Foro Italico.
“I’m feeling good,” he said. “It’s not the first time that I’m playing back-to-back weeks, so I’m just hoping I can carry on the high quality of performances I have had throughout the week in Madrid and also this week in Rome. I want to find that freshness and get as far as I can.
“Once I step on the court, I don’t know how to pace myself. I think it would be disrespectful to the tournament and to all the people that come to watch you that if you’re thinking of some other tournament that’s ahead of you.”