Rafael Nadal has backed Andy Murray to return to form and be one of the contenders at the French Open which begins on 28 May, despite the Scot struggling in recent weeks.
An appearance in the semi-finals of the Barcelona Open has been the world number one's best result in his last five tournaments since winning his only title of 2017 in the Dubai Tennis Championships in February.
Murray lost in the third round of the Madrid Masters last week and succumbed in the second round to home favourite Fabio Fognini at the ongoing Rome Masters. The 30-year-old was at a loss for words with regards to his current form, but remained confident that he could turn it around.
Nadal refutes suggestions that being the world number one adds more pressure, but understands that it is difficult to remain at the top of your game every week. Murray captured the men's singles top ranking at the end of last year after winning five consecutive titles and the Spaniard admits that it takes a toll mentally and physically.
"I don't think being No 1 affects on play a little bit worse, no? I don't see a reason why. But at the same time, it's so difficult to be on the top of your game and mentality for every week," Nadal said, as quoted by Tennis World USA.
"He had unbelievable year last year, winning almost all the matches, and especially in the last part of the season without losing a match. And that's tough, no? Physically, mentally, it's tough to do what he did at the end of his season.
"He probably was a little bit tired after that. But, no, he's a great player, unbelievable player. He lost yesterday. He lost in Madrid without playing a great match. He will be ready for Roland Garros. He has one week and a half to practice, and he will be one of the candidates," the 14-time men's singles Grand Slam champion added.