We are only a fortnight away from major number two for 2022.
This year, Roland Garros feels totally different to previous editions
Novak Djokovic will be steeping foot on a best of 5 tennis court for the first time since his heartbreaking loss last year at US Open. He was attempting the impossible- to win the calendar year grand slam, a feat never completed by any man in more than 50 years.
This year’s Australian Open was supposed to be the tournament where he overtook both Federer and Nadal. It was meant to be the first time in history that Nadal and Federer were left in the dust. Both sitting on 20 grand slams at the time, Novak would have destroyed the duopoly with one more major win. Likely, many pundits would have heralded it the end of an era for Nadal and Federer.
Winning Australia would have put him in box seat for yet another calendar grand slam. He would have entered Roland Garros as the player with 1 major under his belt, the favourite, and the defending champion. It would have meant Nadal came into the second major of the year with doubts, considering it would have been 2 full years since he won a grand slam. Throw in his troublesome foot, Novak would be billed as the favourite. Then Wimbledon would be right around the corner. Potentially major number 3 for Djokovic.
Instead, we are looking at one of the most momentous changes in tennis history. Djokovic being banned from the first hardcourt major of the year, a tournament he has won 9 times. Djokovic being unable to enter the US, meaning he would miss out on competing at Indian Wells or Miami, a tournament he has won or made the final of at least 10 times.
The rust, initially, showed. Beaten in the early rounds of an ATP 500 in Dubai. Dumped out in the first round of the Monte Carlo Masters.
However, this is a different timeline we are entering. The next 2 majors are fast approaching, which could likely make or break the careers of both players. It is unknown at this point whether lockdowns will return. Most are living like there is a zero percent chance of it every returning. In saying this, Djokovic cannot afford to let Wimbledon slip. Or the French Open.
Novak Djokovic, for all money, will absolutely go out there and step onto court Suzanne Lenglen (Or court Phillipe Chatrier) guns blazing.
His mind won’t be on winning or losing a major. It will be on proving himself. Staking a claim on the goat debate.
He wins Roland Garros, and that’s the triple career grand slam. No man in history has won all 3 grand slams 3 times over.
Going one further- if Djokovic wins the French Open next week- he will be the market’s favourite to overtake both Federer and Nadal and become the outright leader of major grand slams.
22 grand slams. 1 above Federer, 2 above Nadal.
Djokovic will absolutely want to be the sole leader in majors. After the year that was, lets bring it on