I don't get it. What is he supposed to say? Maybe he's downplaying to get the pressure off him. After all, he's going against the greatest player on clay. Nadal does that from time to time labelling his opponent as the favourite.Yes, he said it in 2018. And looks what Thiem's saying in 2021, scarcely any better... so defeatist.
What is he supposed to say? I'm going to beat you to pulp? And then have egg on his face the next day? Remember what Djokovic's coach said before FO final? He does not want to look like a fool.