Roland Garros wins 'exactly the same' for Nadal regardless of Federer involvement
Rafael Nadal insists it would be no less special to claim yet another French Open title with Roger Federer absent from Roland Garros.
Federer, the only man to have won more grand slam singles titles than Nadal, has again chosen to skip the clay-court season in order to maximise his chances on grass and hard courts later in the year.
Yet Nadal, who has claimed a remarkable 10 French Open crowns, rejected the notion that his victory last year - and another success in the coming fortnight - would be "more beautiful" had Federer chosen to participate.
"It's exactly the same," said the defending champion with a smile during his pre-tournament news conference. "Being honest. Exactly the same.
"I cannot say that the victory of Federer when I was injured or victory of Novak [Djokovic] when I was injured is not that beautiful. It would not be fair from my side.
"When I am winning and other players are not playing for some reason, that's all.
"It is bad news for the tournament but not for myself if I win. For me, the victory means exactly the same."
Nadal, who faces Alexandr Dolgopolov in round one, comes into the year's second grand slam having won three of his four events on clay in 2018.
After suffering a surprise straight-sets defeat to Dominic Thiem in the Madrid Open, he regained the world number one ranking from Federer by triumphing at the Internazionali d'Italia in Rome for an eighth time.
The Spaniard added: "I think I played a good tournament in Rome, winning some important matches, and at the same time going through a situation that I didn't go through during the whole clay-court season, because I didn't lose a set during Davis Cup, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, and in Madrid I won two matches in straight sets and then I lost in straight sets.
"There were not moments of that pressure, you know, that you need to play well. In Rome I had plenty of these moments. Those situations help you to keep going, to keep being confident."