You might remember that in January, I made the following prediction: “I have Novak winning 1 more GRAND SLAM before the year-end.” Since then, Djokovic has not lost a single match. Not one. Djokovic is 39-0 for the year, having won titles in Australia, Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, and Rome (including 4 straight finals victories over now #1 and reigning French Open champ, Rafael Nadal). So you say, he MUST be the favorite to win the year’s second Grand Slam? I don’t think so.
1) Rafael Nadal
In my opinion, Nadal is clearly the favorite to win the French Open. For one, he is the defending champion. Moreover, he has unquestionably been the best player on clay in the last decade, winning 5 times in 6 years at Roland Garros (his only loss coming at the hands of Robin Soderling 2 years ago). I know Rafa has suffered two heartbreaking losses to Djokovic in the finals of Madrid and Rome, but bear in mind, those tournaments are played in the best-of-three set format. As my brother reminds me, the test is whether Djokovic will be able to sustain his level of play and defeat Rafa in a best-of-five set showdown.
2) Novak Djokovic
Djokovic has been the most dominant athlete in sports this year, let alone tennis. His 39-match win streak is the best we’ve seen since Federer’s string of 41 wins in 2006-2007. He has had quality wins over Nadal, Federer, and Murray on different surfaces. But we’ll see if he has the mental toughness and stamina to power through possibly the year’s most grueling Grand Slam.
3) Roger Federer
When I made my Djokovic prediction, I also made the following observation: “Tennis, my friends, is no longer a two-man race.” I stand corrected — tennis is now a 2-man race, but those two men are Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. That being said, I think Federer’s outside-the-spotlight status will help him at the French Open. With the pressure off and relatively less attention being paid to him, expect the Fed-Express to surpass most people’s expectations.
The Dark Horse
I am in no way saying that David Ferrer has a chance to win this Grand Slam. But, that being said, I expect him to go deep into the tournament, possibly upsetting one of the top 4 players. Ferrer is in excellent shape, and his game is best-suited for the clay courts. Don’t be surprised if ole’ DAH-veed makes a run.
I am tempted to pick Nadal, but I won’t. I’m going with the Djoker, the guy who’s been the best this year. I’ve always thought that Djokovic’s major weakness was his lack of mental toughness. But I think he’s overcome that this year. After winning his second Grand Slam and knocking off Rafa 4 times in a row, I think he’s now mentally ready for the challenge of winning a Grand Slam that’s not the Australian Open. You heard it here first — Djokovic will beat both Federer and Nadal en route to winning his first French Open. And friends, that won’t be the last Grand Slam he wins this year.