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Rafael Nadal celebrates after hitting 47 winners in a five-set victory against Felix Auger-Aliassime on Sunday at Roland Garros.

Nadal On Facing Djokovic: 'It's Going To Be A Big Challenge'

Spaniard discusses state of his game after defeating Auger-Aliassime

Rafael Nadal was happy to battle through a tough five-set challenge on Sunday against Felix Auger-Aliassime at Roland Garros, but the Spaniard knows it will only get tougher.

Next up for the 13-time champion will be World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who has handed the lefty two of his three losses at the clay-court major.

“I didn't play these kind of matches for the past three months, so [it is] going to be a big challenge for me. Of course he already won I think [his] past nine matches in a row, winning in Rome and now winning here in straight sets every match. Probably he will be confident,” Nadal said. “I know how my situation is and I accept it well. I’m going to fight for it.”

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It is easy to forget that Nadal missed a month-and-a-half after the BNP Paribas Open due to a stress fracture in one of his ribs. Then after a quarter-final showing at the Mutua Madrid Open, the Spaniard lost in the third round at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia while visibly struggling due to his long-term foot injury.

For those reasons, Nadal said he “can’t complain much”.

“I am in [the] quarter-finals of Roland Garros. Two weeks and a half ago, even if I had good hopes, positive hopes after Rome, I [didn’t even] know if I would be able to be here,” Nadal said. “So just enjoying the fact that I am here for one more year. And being honest, every match that I play here, I don't know if [it is] going to be my last match here in Roland Garros in my tennis career. That's my situation now.”

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Nadal explained that it was a “tough process” dealing with his reoccurring foot injury. In recent weeks he has explained that the injury is something that will not go away.

“That's why I am just trying to enjoy as much as possible and fight as much as I can to keep living the dream that is [to] keep playing tennis and be back in a very advanced round of Roland Garros, playing against the World No. 1,” Nadal said. “Let's see. I hope to be able to give myself a chance to play at the highest level possible.”

Nadal is now a jaw-dropping 109-3 at Roland Garros, where he will face Djokovic for the 10th time and 59th time overall. Although Djokovic leads their ATP Head2Head series 30-28, Nadal has claimed seven of their nine meetings on the Parisian terre battue.

The Spaniard is well aware that taking out Djokovic, who has not lost a set through four matches, will be difficult. But he is not going to do anything different than usual ahead of this matchup. Instead, the lefty’s process will be simple.

“Have some stretching, my physio. Then eat something probably,” Nadal said, cracking a smile. “Have some sleep. Have a good practice tomorrow and rest tomorrow afternoon. That's it. Nothing special.”

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