Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are two of the favorites at the French Open this year.World number one since last July and the winner of four of the last five majors, Novak Djokovic has been on quite a ride in the past year. The one major hiccup was his loss in the semifinals of the French Open last year to Roger Federer.
There is plenty at stake this year at Roland Garros for Djokovic. Having won the last three Grand Slams, he is seeking to become the first player to hold all four majors at once since Rod Laver completed the calendar-year Slam in 1969.
If he wins the French, Djokovic would become the eighth man to complete the career Grand Slam – a feat his rivals Federer and Rafael Nadal have already accomplished.
Despite his hot streak, Djokovic isn’t the betting favorite. That distinction goes to Nadal, who has owned the red clay in Paris. The six-time French Open champion is 45-1 in his career at the event. And the only man to beat him – Robin Soderling – withdrew from this year’s tournament.
Career W-L vs Novak Djokovic
Last year Nadal had trouble against Djokovic, losing all six meetings. That trend continued at Melbourne Park this year when Djokovic beat Nadal in an instant classic, but Rafa has turned things around by beating Djokovic in the finals at Monte Carlo and Rome.
Federer fans are hoping the Swiss great can remember how to drop the hammer. In each of the last three Grand Slams, he’s been eliminated in a match he led. Most recently this year at the Australian Open, he had the momentum against Nadal after winning the first set tiebreak, before falling in four sets.
Federer’s incredible 31-tournament streak of reaching the Grand Slam quarterfinals is still intact, but he hasn’t made a final since doing so at this event last year.
Tobias Kamke will be Federer’s opening round opponent. The two have never faced off, but a win for Federer would tie Jimmy Connors for the most Grand Slam match wins in the Open Era with 233.
Women’s title up for grabs
Whereas the men’s tournaments have been very predictable, anything goes on the women’s side. The last five Grand Slams have been won by five different women, and the last four have been first-time Grand Slam winners.
Victoria Azarenka has played the best so far this year, winning the Australian Open to go along with three other tournaments.
But she has come up empty since the clay season started, losing to Maria Sharapova in the Stuttgart final and then to Serena Williams in the Madrid final. In neither match did Azarenka put up much of a fight, winning five games against Sharapova and four against Williams.
Speaking of Williams, she enters the French Open on a 17-match winning streak, although she was forced to withdraw from the final tune-up at Rome. Williams hasn’t won a Grand Slam since the 2010 Wimbledon and her only French Open title came back in 2002.