Former champion Juan Carlos Ferrero and Andy Roddick pulled out of the French Open on Thursday after failing to recover from right shoulder injuries.
Ferrero, champion at Roland Garros in 2003 and runner-up in 2002, has played only five matches this year. He’s ranked 72nd.
Roddick, who beat Ferrero in the 2003 US Open final, pulled out of the Italian Open doubles final last weekend and this week’s Open de Nice to give himself a chance of recovering in time for Roland Garros, which starts tomorrow.
Roddick, ranked 11th, has lost his last four singles since mid-March.
His best result at Roland Garros was the fourth round in 2009.
Organizers also said that 78th-ranked Richard Berankis of Lithuania pulled out because of a hip injury. All three men will be replaced in the field by a player who lost in qualifying.
Meanwhile, the defending French Open champion Rafael Nadal heaped the pressure onto Novak Djokovic’s shoulders on Thursday by insisting that the undefeated Serb is the favorite to win Roland Garros.
World No. 2 Djokovic has won all 37 matches he has played this year and has defeated Nadal in the season’s four Masters finals, including on clay in Madrid and Rome.
“I think he is the great favorite. He hasn’t lost a match since the start of the year and he’s playing in an incredible way,” five-time French Open champion and world No. 1 Nadal said on a visit to the Champs Elysees. “I do not fear Djokovic, but you have to applaud his success since the beginning of the year. This will be very difficult to repeat. I admire what he has done.”
Nadal also warned that his great rival Roger Federer, the 2009 champion and 16-time major winner, should not be ruled out as a contender when Roland Garros gets underway tomorrow.
“The Grand Slams are his specialty,” said the Spaniard, who is one title away from equaling Bjorn Borg’s record of six wins in Paris.
“I am always motivated and impatient to get my first match started,” Nadal said. “There has been a lot of talk about the Borg record, but I am only thinking about winning the tournament. The record will be a consequence of that. I can think about it afterwards.”
Nadal practiced for the first time on Thursday at the Suzanne Lenglen Court at Roland Garros.
“I played for about two hours, but it’s too early to tell what the conditions are like. The balls seemed to bounce a little higher, but it’ll take me a few more hours to know more,” he said.