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World number one Novak Djokovic says he cannot afford a repeat of his performance in the Italian Open final if he is to upset the French Open 2012 odds at Roland Garros, next week.

Djokovic lost his Rome title to clay-expert Rafael Nadal in Monday’s rain-affected final. The Spaniard defeated his rival 7-5 6-3 to clinch his sixth victory at the event.

The win also saw Nadal, who has lost just once on his way to three clay-court titles in 2012, reclaim his number two spot in the world rankings from Roger Federer ahead of his French Open defence.

Djokovic admitted he did not push Nadal hard enough in the Italian Open final and will need to improve if he is to break his French Open duck.

"If you don’t use the opportunities against Rafa he gets the momentum on his side and plays better," said the Serbian.

"He didn’t have to play his best, I made a lot of errors and that cannot happen when you play Nadal. What can you do – Nadal is across the net and you need a strong and precise shot. It’s been a good week and he deserved to win."

Djokovic conceded Nadal is the man to beat in Paris: "He is always the favourite, even if I’ve won against him seven times (in finals in 2011). He is the best player in the world on this surface."

Despite his incredible recent success and popularity within the tennis community on www.betfair.com, Djokovic has never reached a French Open final and has struggled to assert his dominance on clay.

Conversely, Nadal has won the event six times in the last seven years, losing only one match in the process. Djokovic will have to be at his very best to wrestle the crown from Nadal’s grasp.
 
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