Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic (R) had his best run of the year when he reached the semifinals of the Italian Open. Pictured, Rafael Nadal of Spain and Djokovic of Serbia embrace after their semi final match during day 7 of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2018 tennis at Foro Italico in Rome, Italy, May 19, 2018. Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Former British women's No. 1 Annabel Croft believes Novak Djokovic should take inspiration from Rafael Nadal's career resurgence.

Nadal won his first Rome Masters since 2013 after defeating Alexander Zverev in three sets during the final Sunday. It meant the Spaniard not only won his third title of the year but also regained his No. 1 ranking from Roger Federer.

It also marks a total of nine titles since returning to action in 2017 for Nadal and Croft feels Djokovic can emulate his tennis comeback, especially given the former also struggled to perform at one point back in 2015 following injury.

"Not so long ago we were talking about Rafa Nadal, he was so short on confidence a couple of years ago, feeling uncomfortable on a tennis court and experiencing feelings he'd never felt before," Croft said, as per Express. "We never thought we'd see the kind of tennis that we'd see back from him so it just shows, one little flick of a switch and things can start to fire up again. I think we’re going to see that with Novak."

Djokovic has experienced an inconsistent past 16 months as a niggling elbow problem affected his performances throughout 2017, before he ultimately took time off from the sport after Wimbledon last July.

However, the 30-year-old's performances have improved since the start of the clay-court season this year, following an elbow surgery in February, as he had his best run of the year in the Rome Masters, reaching the semifinals last week only to lose to Nadal in straight sets.

Djokovic gave the 16-time Grand Slam winner a tough fight though, and was impressive throughout the event which serves as a good sign with the French Open commencing later this month.

"I hope that he [Djokovic] has a good draw [in the French Open]," Croft said. "What we saw here [in Rome] was how he built his levels with some good matches early on and then he started to get very, very dangerous. ... He played a great match against [Kei] Nishikori, a terrific match against Rafa Nadal. I think it was evidence there that he wasn’t too far away from being very, very challenging. Mentally, I think it was more impressive. He said that didn't he, that he was very proud mentally of how he fought his way through and ended up playing five matches throughout the court of the week."

"Don't forget he was very close to not even being seeded at the French Open, had he gone out in the first round he wouldn’t have had a seeded position. Can you imagine that if he’d ended up facing Rafa Nadal in the first round? But I think he could be very, very dangerous and we've seen the reemergence and the putting back together of Novak Djokovic."

The French Open takes place from May 27 to June 10 with Djokovic's last Grand Slam win coincidentally coming at Roland Garros in 2016.