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Nadal focused on French Open defence

May 02, 2006 10:28 IST

Rafael Nadal, in sight of Argentine Guillermo Vilas's record claycourt streak of 53 successive victories, is dreaming of a successful French Open title defence later this month.

The 19-year-old Spaniard overtook Swede Bjorn Borg in the Open Era list on Sunday, claiming his 47th consecutive win on clay by beating compatriot Tommy Robredo 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 to capture the Barcelona Open for the second year in a row.

Victory in next week's Rome Masters Series event would put Nadal level with Vilas on 53, although he said the record was not his main goal.

"I've achieved my main objective (taking the title) here and I've overtaken Borg's number of wins," the world number two told reporters.

"I guess I could try to go for Vilas's total in Rome but I have my sights set on Roland Garros."

Borg achieved his run of 46 wins between October 1977 and May 1979 while Vilas's mark of 53 was set in 1977.

GENERATION AGO

"It is a generation ago and perhaps the competition was not as great as it is now," said Nadal. "I am not understating their records at all, they are great, but it is hard to compare."

Borg sent a message of congratulations to Nadal after he passed the former world number one on the list.

The Spaniard said: "Borg is one of the greatest players of all time. I have only seen bits of his play on video but he won six French Opens and five Wimbledons, I don't know if I can do that."

Victories over Roger Federer in the finals of Dubai and Monte Carlo this year, in an era when the Swiss is all but unbeatable, have extended Nadal's winning record against the world number one to 4-1.

Nadal will go into the French Open as the favourite, having won in Monte Carlo and Barcelona.

"It's normal to lose, not to keep on winning," he said. "Is it normal to win Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, Roland Garros? No."

When told that Austrian Thomas Muster won at Estoril, Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome in 1995 and 1996, Nadal replied: "Well, Muster was Muster".

The French Open starts on May 29.

Simon Cambers
Source:
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