The return of Roger Federer to Euroclay and, ultimately, the French Open (he hasn’t appeared at Roland Garros since 2015) has been the main storyline in the ATP this spring. But other factors have contributed to making these past few weeks perhaps the most exciting run-up to the French Open in years.
While Federer was searching for his clay game with notable success, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal — his two main rivals in the record book — were playing hot potato with the label “favorite.” They ended up splitting the two most prestigious Masters clay events, in Madrid (Djokovic) and Rome (Nadal). Fittingly, they finally met Sunday in the final of the Italian Open — the last major match before the French Open.
But for overview, there’s a lot more at stake for these three titans of the game than yet another Grand Slam title. Here’s a look at what earning that title might mean for each man and how likely each of them is to succeed.
What the world number has to gain: Djokovic has won the past three Grand Slams. Should he win the French Open, he will have completed a second “Djoker Slam,” the term now used to describe the rare feat of the eponymous player holding all four Grand Slam titles at the same time.
The gold standard “Grand Slam” describes winning all four Grand Slam titles in the same calendar year — something only the winner of the Australian Open in any given year can accomplish.
Djokovic is the Australian champion, so a Djoker Slam could evolve into a Grand Slam, leaving Djokovic just the third man in tennis history to record a Grand Slam.
What he has to lose: Djokovic has quietly crept close to Federer and Nadal in the Grand Slam singles title count. He now has 15, just two behind Nadal but still five short of Federer. Should Djokovic make the French final, he will be 32 years old. Federer, 37, has added only three major titles since he turned 32 (but has played in six finals). Djokovic can’t waste any opportunity to win a major if he hopes to catch Federer.
Nadal could add to his already mind-blowing single Slam record by winning at Roland Garros for the 12th time. That also would draw him within two majors of Federer’s record 20. Should Nadal surpass that record, the GOAT debate (in which Federer currently is the popular choice) changes, given that Nadal’s head-to-head record against the Swiss icon already is a convincing 23-15. With a win in Paris, Nadal also would confirm that despite those recurring injuries, he can still reach his once-familiar heights.
What he has to lose: Never mind this era. It’s unlikely anyone will ever usurp the throne of the “King of Clay.” But losses to his main rivals would do more damage to Nadal’s reputation than failure against, say, a rising young star such as Dominic Thiem. A loss to Djokovic would provide the Serb star with a significant entry in his already positive series record (Djokovic leads 28-26) as well as a second French Open conquest. A loss to Federer at Roland Garros would be a startling first.
Nadal said yesterday that he “doesn’t care” if he is the red-hot favourite to lift a record-extending 12th French Open title at Roland Garros, insisting that there are a host of players in contention for the trophy.
The world No 2 holds an incredible French Open win-loss record of 86-2, and hit top form by winning his ninth Italian Open last week with a final victory over old rival Novak Djokovic.
Nadal could move to within two titles of Roger Federer’s all-time men’s record of 20 Grand Slam trophies if he lifts the Coupe des Mousquetaires on 9 June.
“I don’t care if I’m the favourite,” he said. “I care about feeling well and playing well.
“I appreciate that you (the media) see me like that, but (Dominic) Thiem, Novak (Djokovic), Federer, Tsitsipas who has been playing well, (Juan Martin) del Potro, (Kei) Nishikori – all those that are the best in the world will be favourites.”
Nadal admits it took him time to rediscover his top form after a one-month absence with the right knee injury which forced him to withdraw from Indian Wells before a scheduled semifinal against Federer.
A win would boost Federer’s haul of major titles to 21. That ought to be enough to put the record out of reach for Nadal (17), who is 32 and frequently hobbled, as well as Djokovic (15). A victory in Paris also would give Federer a résumé-balancing second French Open title and add to his legacy, ranking as the most improbable of his many remarkable achievements.
What he has to lose: Federer going into Roland Garros personifies the expression, “He’s playing with house money.” Sure, a humiliating defeat dealt by a clay-court grinder on a cold, wet day would be a bummer for Federer and his fans. But Federer really is playing mostly for the fun of it.
NSCDC Trains 150 Personnel On Mines, Explosive Demobilisation Techniques
The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has trained 150 of its personnel on mines and explosives detonation techniques...
Sarri Names New Juventus Coach
Maurizio Sarri has been named new coach of Serie A champions Juventus on a three-year contract after leaving Chelsea, the...
ABU Scientist Develops Pod Resistant Cowpea Variety, To Save Country N16.2bn Annually
One of the main research efforts of the Institute for Agricultural Research of the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria over the...
Police Say Bandits Kill 34 Persons In Zamfara Communities
The Police Command in Zamfara has confirmed the killing of 34 persons following an attack in Tungar Kafau and Gidan...
…Group Urges Indigenes In Diaspora To Rebuild Imo
iThink Nigeria, a socio-economic platform and political think tank, on Sunday urged indigenes of Imo in the Diaspora to return...
Head Of Libya’s UN-Backed Government Presents Plan To End Crisis
Fayez Serraj, the head of Libya’s UN-backed government, on Sunday proposed a political initiative to end the North African country’s...
KEDCO Boss Tasks Employees on Performance
As part of efforts aimed at re-positioning Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO), the Managing Director/CEO Dr. Jamilu Isyaku Gwamna has...
COLUMNS12 hours ago
The Myth of Islamisation And A Contrasting Reality
NEWS14 hours ago
FG Approves N208b For Tertiary Institutions
COVER STORIES14 hours ago
Senators Who Survived The Odds In Their Constituencies
COVER STORIES14 hours ago
Nigerians Set Agenda As PMB Shops For NASS Liaison Officers
NEWS1 hour ago
Residence Permit: We Will Deport Millions Of Foreign Nationales if… Immigration CG
COVER STORIES15 hours ago
Teenage Inmates Break Record In JAMB Exam
FEATURES13 hours ago
Drama As 9th Senate Begins Sitting
COVER STORIES14 hours ago
Gov Bello Embraces Kogi APC’s Choice Of Indirect Primaries