With a month before the start of the French Open, once again Paris appears to be a two-horse race between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Rafa is the 7-time champion at the French, but Djokovic, who may have won his first title there a year ago if not for the rain, just whipped the King of Clay Nadal convincingly in Monte Carlo over the weekend.
Nadal may still not be at full strength after so much inactivity and the knees remain an ever question mark over the long haul. And Rafa will unlikely be seeded higher than No. 4 at best in Paris, meaning he could draw Djokovic in the semifinals, maybe even in the quarters if he doesn’t run the clay table from here and win Barcelona, Madrid and Rome.
Djokovic of course has never won the French and a win would give him the career Slam, but he’s beaten Rafa on clay (they’ve split their last six on the dirt) and with the ankle apparently no longer an issue, he appears to be in excellent shape going forward. Though he’ll need to somehow keep that form another 45 days or so when he may be confronted with the toughest task in tennis: beating Nadal over five sets on red clay.
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It is a difficult one to pick. But I will stick my neck out and predict that Novak will be the new Champion. I want him to be one since he will be winning it for the first time in his career and will also be completing the coveted grand slam to be clubbed along with legends like Laver, Roger and Nadal.
April 24th, 2013 at 12:45 am