Roger Federer says he's not the favorite at the French Open

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Roger Federer, stating the obvious Monday in Rome:

"I would love to say I'm the big favorite [at Roland Garros], but I don't think it's quite right, even though I won the French Open last year.

"Rafa [Rafael Nadal] has just proven again in Monaco how tough he is. He's been on an absolute tear on clay for the last five years. He's hardly lost any matches. You can almost count those on one hand, and he's only lost one match at the French Open. So I would think he's still the favorite."

In related stories, Andy Murray thinks he's not playing his best tennis, Serena suggests she may not care about non-Grand Slam events and John Isner believes he's leggy.

Federer isn't the big favorite in Paris because he's not the big favorite. To say so isn't some magnanimous, sportsmanlike gesture on his part, it's the truth. (I do like in that quote how he managed to slip in the fact that he won last year. It's like he was verbally removing the gorilla from his back.) The few places that are taking wagers for Roland Garros right now have Nadal getting 1/2 odds compared to the 3/1 for Federer.

That doesn't mean things couldn't shift though. They're on the same side of the draw in this week's Masters 1000 event in Rome. They'd face off in a semifinal, assuming Nadal can get past Robin Soderling in the quarterfinals and Federer plays better than he did during his trip to the States last month when he failed to reach the quarters at either Key Biscayne or Indian Wells.

But, just as he will be in Paris, Rafa is the heavy favorite in Rome (he's going off at 7/15 to win, compared to a whopping 7/1 for Federer). Something tells me Roger Federer knows that better than anyone.

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