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PHOTOS/VIDEO: Rafael Nadal Media Day at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome. 10 May 2016
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.”