Can Novak Djokovic win the French Open in 2013?

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    Novak Djokovic has suffered a shock loss at the Aussie Open. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

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    Every year since 2005, there is one question that tennis fans want answered at the French Open – can Rafael Nadal be beaten?

    But this year, the top question will be: can Novak Djokovic finally win the Open in 2013?

    Many believe that Novak Djokovic will be the favourite to finally claim his first French Open crown this year, this coming on the back of ending Rafael Nadal’s dominance at the Monte Carlo Masters, where he won his biggest clay court title to go with the pair he won in Madrid and Rome two years ago (both by beating Nadal in the final).

    Despite Djokovic’s favouritism for the French Open, I still believe that Nadal is the man to beat as he chases an eighth title, which would be a record for any man at any Grand Slam tournament. He has only ever been beaten once at the French Open, and has also only ever been taken to five sets once.

    Facing Nadal at the French Open is a virtual mission impossible, but only one man has been able to knock him off the throne. And his name isn’t Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer.

    It was on May 31, 2009 in which history at the French Open changed forever. For the first time since Nadal made his tournament debut in 2005, the Spaniard left the court a loser as Robin Soderling sent him packing in four sets.

    The removal of the biggest obstacle in Roger Federer’s quest to complete a Career Grand Slam ultimately allowed him to achieve just that.

    Novak Djokovic is going to have to hope that something similar happens this year, but I feel that Nadal’s loss in 2009 was simply a one-off, as it has been proven in the last three years.

    Losses like these are very rare, though Nadal was beaten in the second round at Wimbledon last year, a result which also changed the course of history and allowed Andy Murray to become the first British man since Bunny Austin in 1938 to reach the Wimbledon final.

    John McEnroe has called for the French Open tournament organisers to assign Nadal as the top seed, as it is now all but certain that Nadal cannot overtake David Ferrer (who has a 1,000 point lead over the 11-times Major champion) before the tournament organises its seedings in two weeks’ time.

    I would agree with his argument, given that if he is seeded fifth for the French Open, he could potentially face Djokovic in the quarter-finals. That could potentially result in the Serbian’s current streak of eleven consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals being ended (he is on a current streak of fifteen consecutive Grand Slam quarter-finals), along with his quest to complete a Career Grand Slam.

    And that would be totally unfair. Djokovic and Nadal should not be allowed to meet this early at any tournament. And given their rivalry since 2010, I would love to see yet another final between these two gladiators.

    For mine, I feel that Nadal should draw David Ferrer in the quarter-finals, as this would allow all the “Big Four” to reach the semi-finals, as they did in 2011. Ferrer is a worthy player, and has beaten Nadal twice at major tournaments (at the 2007 US Open and the 2011 Australian Open) as well as Murray (last year’s French Open).

    So, will this finally be the year that Novak Djokovic finally wins the French Open?

    His Monte Carlo Masters victory over Nadal could set the precedence for a dominant clay court season.

    However, it’s going to take skill, guts and determination to achieve the ultimate prize and he will have to be ready to beat Rafael Nadal, whenever they do meet.

    Djokovic will also be desperate to go one better after losing to Nadal in last year’s two-day French Open final, where the match was suspended due to rain on the first day, just when Djokovic appeared to have some momentum going, having Nadal on the ropes in the third and fourth sets before the Spaniard came back to win in four sets.

    Nadal has retained his title in Barcelona, which means it’s equal in the European clay court season as far as champions are concerned.

    There are still the clay court events in Madrid (which starts this week) and Rome to get through, before we can really determine who is the favourite to win the French Open this year. An outright favourite cannot be determined by just one tournament. Maybe it was that Nadal wasn’t having a good day in that Monte Carlo final.

    I still feel that he is the man to beat at Roland Garros, given his dominance on clay and at the tournament overall. Djokovic will challenge, but the big question will be whether he can challenge Nadal over five sets on clay. As for Federer and Murray – they will probably want the grass court season to start sooner rather than later.

    Later on this month I will provide a full preview of the men’s and women’s chances at the French Open, with the main focus being on Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal for the men, and for the women, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams.

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    The Crowd Says (22)

    • May 5th 2013 @ 5:09am
      Paula Rolle said | May 5th 2013 @ 5:09am | ! Report

      Novak Dokovic will win the French Open at Roland Garros. He is the best tennis player the world has ever seen. He is the complete player and his game is perfect. He has composure, confidence and exceptional talent and ability. He will win all his tennis tournaments this year, and with ease, not even breaking a sweat. He is the greatest!!!

      • June 8th 2013 @ 7:10pm
        Tony said | June 8th 2013 @ 7:10pm | ! Report

        Hahahaha Rafa is already the virtual number 1 for 2013. From Wimbledon on he has no points to defend and will just add points . He has been awesome since his comeback.

    • May 5th 2013 @ 5:40am
      Johnno said | May 5th 2013 @ 5:40am | ! Report

      Yes he can, and if he does serious debate will have to start if he is the best player of the last 25 years.

      He is already top 5
      1) Nadal
      3) Federer
      5) Agassi

      But he will be seriously pushing for best of all time status of last 25 years anyway.

      And pushing pack say last 35 years, only Mcenroe, Connor’s, or Bjorg could realistically challenge him.
      Best of all time then Laver, but Laver as many of you know does not undisputedly have the crown of best men’s tennis player of all time. Laver won a grand slam in 1969 he was 31 by that stage, and it was int he open era, when pro’s came back on with the amatuer’s.

      But the blight in Laver’s era, as with today’s player’s the last 30 year’s, 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s, is globalisation of Tennis.

      Tennis globalization was not around in Laver’s time in the 50’s and 60’s.

      Just look at how much Australia’s Davis cup title’s have dropped off in the last 30 year’s.

      It was USA, Australia, France, UK, centric sport.

      Laver never had to deal with the Argentina’s, the Brazilian’s, the Spanish eg Nadal, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Brugera, Del Potro and many more. And the German’s, Swedish, and the Russians, and the Czech’s, the Croatian’s, and the Serbian’s.

      Now the last 30 years the whole world has picked up tennis, and in the next 10 years we will see the rise even more of the Asian star’s. Ladies like Kimiko Date of Japan, and Li Na, and Peng Shuai , and Zheng Jie of China , Sania Mirza of India are just the start.

      And in the men guy’s like Thailand’s Paradorn Srichaphan, India’s Laender Pae’s, and Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin are just the start of the rise of men’s and women;s
      Asian tennis player’s over the last 15 years, and it will only massively increase.

      Novak has won his title’s in the era of globalisation, unlike say Laver.

      He beat Nadal on clay recently, and if he win’s at the French he would of won all 4 grand slams, on all tennis surfaces.

      Novak also has a good record, on the Indoor carpet’s of Europe.

      Novak had the best year ever by a men’s player in the open pro era in 2011.
      If he can win the French he is pushing best of last 25 year’s defiantly , and is also seriously pushing best of last 50 year’s all thing’s considered. He has beaten Nadal in 5 set epic’s at grand slam’s eg 2012 Australian open, he beat Nadal at WImbledon 2011.

      His OZ open win vs Murray 2013, was slightly tarnished as he did get an extra rest day , over Murray who only had 2 days to recover from an exhausting 5 set match vs Federer, where as Novak got 3 day’s rest.

      But all thing’s considered if he wins the French this year, he has real claims to be no 1 of last 25 year’s in men’s tennis.

      • May 7th 2013 @ 4:45am
        Josh Killman said | May 7th 2013 @ 4:45am | ! Report

        HAHAHAHAHA ITS SO FUNNY THAT YOU PUT NADAL AT NUMBER ONE!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Nadal is at the most number 3 all time behind Federer and Pete. Nadal has purel y been a clay-court player over his career. He is not a complete player at all. Federer is the most complete player of all time and Sampras is second cause he never won the French Open.

    • Roar Pro

      May 5th 2013 @ 8:00am
      Alexander Grant said | May 5th 2013 @ 8:00am | ! Report

      With a French Open court that plays closer to a hardcourt? Can’t be doubted.

      It’s maybe slightly exaggerating, but the surface speed is certainly quicker – which would give him an edge over Nadal in his current form. In saying that, Nadal is starting to look like his old self again. Odds of someone other than these two winning should be 20/1 minimum.

      • May 5th 2013 @ 12:14pm
        clipper said | May 5th 2013 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

        The odds are nearly that at the moment and would be even higher if the draw came out that they couldn’t face each other until the final.

      • May 5th 2013 @ 6:20pm
        sledgeandhammer said | May 5th 2013 @ 6:20pm | ! Report

        Let’s not forget Federer. He has beaten Djokovic at Rolland Garros, and come very close to beating Nadal in 2011. In 2009 Federer beat Nadal in Madrid (red clay) and had two match points in Rome final v Nadal several years ago (red clay). He is world number 2 and second most successful clay court player of past 10 years. And he is coming off 6 weeks rest, if you offer 20/1 against Federer I would definitely be putting my money down.

    • May 5th 2013 @ 1:41pm
      nickoldschool said | May 5th 2013 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

      Read yesterday that Nadal wouldn’t be RG’s top seed and will either be 4 or 5, which means a possible QF against Djokovic.

      I think RG’s boss Gilbert Ysern Took the right and fairest decision. If Nadal is the best, he will have to beat anyone he faces no matter what round it is. Good call.

    • May 5th 2013 @ 6:15pm
      Frankie Hughes said | May 5th 2013 @ 6:15pm | ! Report

      The fastest the clay court the better for Nadal.

      Just look at 2010 and 2011, babolat introduced the smaller faster balls, Nadal won.

      Nadal will win again.

      Djokovic the best player at 25? No chance.

      Only 1 final at the home of Tennis Wimbledon.

    • May 5th 2013 @ 6:24pm
      sledgeandhammer said | May 5th 2013 @ 6:24pm | ! Report

      Based on Monte Carlo Djokovic deserves to be favourite, with Nadal right up there. My other favourite is world number 2 Roger Federer. Like Djokovic Federer has beaten Nadal on red clay, and has been second most dominant clay court player of past 10 years.

      Murray and Ferrer are not a threat. Tsonga is a massive threat. Tommy Haas might cause an upset, as could Dimitrov.

      • May 5th 2013 @ 10:59pm
        ALEXIS WENDEL said | May 5th 2013 @ 10:59pm | ! Report


        • May 8th 2013 @ 11:07am
          reality bites said | May 8th 2013 @ 11:07am | ! Report

          Good morning Alexis, have you had time to wipe the egg of your face this morning? Your ‘monster’ just lost to Dimitrov in Madrid. Furthermore he lost to Tommy Haase in Miami, a 34 year old. I bet that hurt. Djokovic is fading fast, too injury prone & soft! True legends like Federer never lose so easily.

          • May 8th 2013 @ 11:12am
            reality bites said | May 8th 2013 @ 11:12am | ! Report

            Just so everyone gets it, my post was in jest. People who slag off great players based on age or match ups have no idea about tennis. Even great players lose. As fans we should not lose perspective.

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