Former world No 4 James Blake says he is delighted to see Rafael Nadal's resurgence and claims the Spaniard is the firm favourite to win the 2017 French Open, ahead of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

Nadal enjoyed success during the ongoing clay-court season, having won the Monte-Carlo Masters, Barcelona Open and the Madrid Open. He defeated Djokovic at the Roland Garros in 2014, which was his last Grand Slam success.

The world No 1 and Djokovic have struggled on clay and are yet to hit top form. Despite failing to win a major title in the last three years, Blake believes Nadal is in a firm position to win the French Open that will take place from 28 May to 11 June.

"I still have to put Rafa in as a pretty heavy favorite the way he's been playing, the way the other top players have been playing. How much success he's had there, I would think of him as a pretty big favourite," Blake told

"...I'm excited to see Rafa right now, playing about as well as he's played in the last five years, back where he's dominated so much at the French Open. I think it's great for the sport."

The former world number one has won the French Open for a record nine times. He will face competition from Djokovic and Murray for the second Grand Slam of the calendar year after Roger Federer confirmed he will skip the premier clay court event. The Serbian is the defending champion having achieved the feat after defeating Murray in the 2016 final.

Blake has issued a warning to the trio not to rule out Dominic Thiem's chances of challenging them at this year's French Open. The Austrian defeated Nadal in the quarter-final of the Italian Open and lost to Djokovic in the semi-final. Blake has backed the 23-year-old to win his first career Grand Slam at Roland Garros at some point in his career.

"Thiem, on a given day, can beat anyone in the world, as he showed in Rome. ...Thiem, for many years to come, will be a contender there," he said.

"I think he's someone that will get a Slam at some point in his career. If I had to bet on one he would get, it would be Roland Garros. But it might just be a waiting game for the rest of the tour until Rafa is done collecting all those French Open titles."