PARIS - Rafael Nadal insisted on Friday that his decade-long experience of playing at the French Open will make him a serious contender for a 10th title at Roland Garros despite being widely written off.
The 28-year-old Spaniard, who made his debut in Paris back in 2005 sweeping all before him on the way to the first of nine titles in the French capital, is only seeded six this year, a legacy of a relatively poor clay-court season.
But the defending champion believes that the low expectations may count in his favour when the tournament gets underway on Sunday.
"I don't need to lie to create better expectation or to let you or the people know that I am in one way or I am in the other way. I am being honest. When I say I don't know what's gonna happen, I really don't know what's gonna happen," said Nadal whose record at the French Open reads 66 wins and just one loss.
"That doesn't mean that I don't have confidence in myself to try to be ready for it. I have to think that I am ready. My last couple of weeks have been much more positive than what the results said.
"I am gonna try to put my game in a position that's gonna give me the chance. If I am able to do it, I have enough experience here."
After winning a ninth French Open last year, Nadal was hit by a series of injuries as well as a bout of appendicitis.
He has just one title this year - on clay in Buenos Aires - and enters Paris without a European clay-court trophy for the first time in 10 years having lost to Andy Murray in the Madrid final, being beaten in the semi-finals in Monte Carlo by Novak Djokovic and losing to Fabio Fognini in Barcelona.
On the eve of Paris, he was defeated by Stan Wawrinka in the Rome quarter-finals.