Rome, Apr.27 (ANI): Despite his victory in last year's French Open, World No 1 Roger Federer believes 'tearaway' Spaniard Rafael Nadal remains the one clay court champion to beat.
When Federer goes to the Roland Garros next month, he believes the favourite to lift the Coupe des Mousquetaires will be a rival who has just won his first tournament for 11 months.
Federer says he has always held Rafael Nadal in the highest respect and believes the Spaniard is rapidly putting his recent difficulties behind him.
"The guy's been on an absolute tearaway on clay for pretty much the last five years," The Independent quoted Federer, as saying.
"He's hardly lost any matches on clay and he's only lost one match at the French Open, so I would think he's still the favourite. I would love to say I'm the big favourite, but I don't think that's quite right, even though I won the French Open last year," he added.
"He (Nadal) just hasn't lost to anyone on clay outside of the top five or top 10 players - and he's just proved again in Monaco how tough he is," Federer said.
Meanwhile, Nadal is also doing his best to be match fit in the run-up to the next two Grand Slam tournaments.
As for the prospect of renewing an old rivalry with Federer, Nadal said: "It's too early at the start of the tournament to think about Federer. I think for me and for Roger it would be a pleasure if we played each other in the semi-finals - just because it would be very good news to be in the semi-finals of a very tough tournament like Rome." (ANI)