Not an opponent you want! - Nadal fears things could go Paire-shaped


Rafael Nadal rued being given such a tricky first-round opponent with Benoit Paire representing the Spaniard's initial obstacle in his bid for a 10th French Open title.

The King of Clay was forced to withdraw in the third round at Roland Garros last year as he continued to be plagued by injury problems.

Many thought Nadal's last hope of securing 'La Decima' had passed him by, but a resurgence in 2017 means the 30-year-old comes into this year's event as the hot favourite.

Nadal sealed his 10th titles in both Monte Carlo and Barcelona, followed up by another win in Madrid, although he could have been handed a more straightforward opponent in Friday's draw than world number 45 Paire.

"Not an opponent you want to play against in the first round, no?" said Nadal.

"He's a player with big talent. Great serve, great hands. Fantastic backhand. He is a dangerous opponent. I need to play my best. Let's see."

Nadal enters his favourite slam full of confidence, but says being touted as the man to beat makes no difference to his approach in Paris.

"Since the beginning of the season I am happy with the way that I played. I think I play well in almost every event that I was there," he said.

"I played well on hard. Then played great on clay, no? I'm happy about the events that I won. The three events I have won have been very important for me.

"It doesn't matter what you say, what you don't say, at the end of the day for me the only important thing is arrive here, play well. If I am playing well, it doesn't matter if you believe or you don't believe that I am one of the candidates or not.

"I have to play. The only way to have chances, real chances to play a good event is play very well, be healthy, and then be with the right attitude in every practice and in every match."