No easy starts for top guns at the French Open
PARIS There will be no gentle start for the favourites at the French Open starting this weekend, with nine-time winner Rafa Nadal and defending champion Novak Djokovic on a semi-final collision course.
LONDON Chelsea's Eden Hazard said he was relishing the midfield role that had allowed him to play such an influential part in the London side's surge towards the Premier League title.
Speaking after a 2-1 win at West Ham United that put the Blues 10 points clear at the top, the Belgian said Antonio Conte's 3-4-3 system was getting the best out of him.
"It is easier for me to move inside," said Hazard, who opened the scoring after a thrilling counter-attack in the 25th minute. "Sometimes when I play wide I am alone. In this system we know what to do, we try to pass to each other all the time."
Asked by Chelsea great Frank Lampard if they might beat the Premier League record of 95 points with which they won the title under Jose Mourinho in 2004/5, Hazard said they were not setting any targets other than winning the Blues' sixth top-tier title.
"We are top and we want to stay there. We have 11 games left, and we will try to win the title as quickly as possible."
"Tonight we played a good game, maybe not the best of the season but we scored two goals and won."
If Chelsea win all their remaining games they will reach 99 points, but only need 26 more to guarantee the title.
Conte also refused to get carried away, describing Monday's win as just another "solid step" towards their ultimate goal.
"I think we played a good game," he said. "My players showed great commitment, concentration and will to win.
"Our first goal was very good but it's a pity we gave away the goal at the end. Eden and the other players did very well."
Lampard, watching in the Sky Sports studio, predicted that Chelsea had the players to win the title long before the end of the season.
"If they keep their form up like that they will be unstoppable. That was the most professional job you can imagine," he said.
(Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Ken Ferris)
PARIS He might have arrived in Paris in great shape, having lost only one match on clay this season, but Rafa Nadal is still wary of the threat posed by his French Open first-round opponent, the unpredictable Benoit Paire.