French Open: 'Rafael Nadal can't rule Paris forever' - Becker gives predictions ahead of Novak Djokovic clash
"I'm not a clairvoyant, but the top favourite for me remains Nadal, that hasn't changed," Becker said. "At some point the successors have to come. Nadal can't rule Paris forever. I also see that Djokovic can win such a tournament but Tsitsipas and Zverev are also almost on a par. For me, it's just a question of time. So this is just the first of many more big matches between Tsitsipas and Zverev."
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Published 10/06/2021 at 15:57 GMT | Updated 10/06/2021 at 16:35 GMT
Novak Djokovic is set to take on Rafael Nadal in what is a mouth-watering French Open semi-final clash, and the Serb's former coach, Boris Becker, has given his predictions ahead of both last-four encounters.
Djokovic said "the vibes are different" this year as he meets Nadal at Roland Garros for the second consecutive year, following his dramatic and emotional win over Matteo Berrettini on Wednesday night.
"I also see that Djokovic can win such a tournament, but Tsitsipas and Zverev are also almost on a par. For me, it's just a question of time.
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"Now it's a mental thing: Who will stay cooler? Who has the greater will?" Becker continued. "Tsitsipas can do everything quite well. I can't find any weaknesses, especially on clay - whether it's his serve, groundstrokes or fitness. And he feels comfortable on the big stage.
"I see the two of them fighting for the crown together with Medvedev over the next few years. So this is just the first of many more big matches between Tsitsipas and Zverev.
"For me, Zverev has the most power. When he hits, there's no stopping him. But he can only do that when he's relatively close to the baseline and plays a bit more offensively. That's the difference to all the others who are still in the tournament.
"But he has to do it. In the quarterfinal, he was a bit too passive in my opinion, he played too long rallies. If he acts a little more offensively, a little more risky, maybe he'll make a few more mistakes, but then he can beat any player in the world."
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"The return game of Novak is just so solid, it’s aggressive and he puts a lot of returns back in play," Wilander said. "I thought it was a really impressive performance by Novak the whole way through. And he didn’t drop serve the whole night.
"The emotion at the end, that’s what he is holding in the whole time. That’s why I am so impressed and proud to be part of the sport of professional tennis because these players have gone through very, very difficult times and they are holding a lot of emotion in. You see there with Novak that it is emotional for these guys. It is a tough job during the pandemic to be a travelling tennis player.
When you looked at the draw this is the dream scenario. This is one of the first times I have felt this but regardless of who wins between Rafa and Novak this is going to be tough against Tsitsipas or Zverev – they have a great chance to win their first Grand Slam, a great chance.
Eighteen-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic said in his press conference: "It's not like any other match, let's face it, the biggest challenge you can have is playing against [Rafa] Nadal on this court in which he has had so much success in his career in the final stages of the Grand Slam, it doesn't get bigger than that.
"Each time we face each other there's the extra tension and expectation and vibes are different... walking on the court with him, but that's why our rivalry has been historic for this sport and I've been privilege to play him so many times."
Djokovic, 34, has won the French Open once, in 2016, compared to Nadal's 13 titles at Roland Garros but both men are in the hunt to end their careers with the most Grand Slam titles to their names.
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