NOVAK DJOKOVIC is unlikely to beat in-form star Rafael Nadal to the 2018 French Open crown next month.
That is according to former tennis star Mark Petchey.
The Serb suffered yet another early tournament exit this week, crashing out of the Madrid Open at the second round after losing to Brit Kyle Edmund.
Djokovic has struggled since his return from an elbow injury which has plagued him for the last 12 months.
And as the 30-year-old attempts to re-find his best form, it is looking increasingly likely that the Roland Garros event will see another early exit.
And Petchey believes Nadal's impressive form on clay this season will carry him further than Djokovic at the event.
Novak Djokovic crashed out of the Madrid Open at the second round
"Last year we would have said the Australian Open had come a little too quickly for Roger [on his return from a six-month injury layoff] and many of us were left eating our words at the end of the tournament," he told Tennis ChitChat.
"I am always loathed to do it [rule Djokovic out] but as the tournament goes with Rafa's dominance on this particular surface you would think it is going to be too soon for him [to make a charge to win it].
"But I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the quarters or the semi-finals because that is the quality of the man."
Rafael Nadal had been in fine form before his shock exit to Dominic Thiem
Nadal had won 50 consecutive sets on his favoured clay surface in recent weeks.
But a shock defeat to Dominic Thiem on Friday means the 31-year-old has now lost his place as world No 1.
However, Nadal will still go into the French Open as the favorite due to the absence of Roger Federer.