Federer, Nadal threaten Djokovic bid for historic Slam

PARIS: Novak Djokovic can grow to be solely the second man in historical past to have twice held all 4 Grand Slam titles on the similar time with victory on the French Open.

Nonetheless, a returning Roger Federer and rejuvenated Rafael Nadal will as soon as once more stand in his means.

World primary Djokovic accomplished his first non-public stranglehold of all 4 Slams with victory at Roland Garros in 2016.

Having clinched the 2018 Wimbledon and US Open titles after which a seventh Australian Open crown in January this yr, the Serb is tantalisingly shut to a different ‘Djoko Slam’.

Federer and Nadal, with 20 and 17 profession Grand Slam titles every respectively, could also be forward of 15-time main winner Djokovic in complete hauls and have additionally accomplished profession Slams.

Nonetheless, not even Federer or Nadal have managed to carry all 4 of the game’s best prizes on the similar time.

It’s such a uncommon feat that solely Don Budge (1938) and Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) — all calendar Grand Slams — have pulled off the sweep within the sport’s historical past.

Djokovic, who turned 32 on Wednesday, is enjoying down his potential date with future even when it could put him midway to a 2019 calendar Slam of his personal.

After shedding to Nadal within the Italian Open closing final weekend, the Serb was in little question that it was the Spaniard who would doubtless be celebrating a 12th Roland Garros title in a bit over two weeks’ time.

“Nadal, primary favorite, indubitably — then everybody else,” he mentioned.

Djokovic, who can be high seed in Thursday’s draw, may very well be forgiven his warning.

At Roland Garros in 2018, he was shocked by Italian journeyman Marco Cecchinato within the quarter-finals, a defeat which was such a crushing bodyblow that he even contemplated skipping Wimbledon.

Federer is returning to Roland Garros for the primary time since 2015 having turned his again on clay court docket tennis to give attention to Wimbledon. This yr marks the 10th anniversary of his one and solely Paris triumph and will the 37-year-old defy the chances and clinch the 2019 title he would grow to be the oldest Grand Slam champion of all time.

Age hasn’t dimmed his capability with Federer saving match factors to beat Gael Monfils in Madrid and in Rome in opposition to Borna Coric as he discovered his toes once more on European purple clay.

“It’s been attention-grabbing and enjoyable, however not so difficult, to be trustworthy,” mentioned Federer regardless of his Rome marketing campaign being reduce brief by a leg harm.

Nadal, whose document at Roland Garros stands at a staggering 11 titles and a win-loss document of 86-2, claimed a ninth Italian Open title and a document 34th Masters on Sunday.

His three-set win over Djokovic was well timed because it was his first title of 2019 and had adopted three successive semi-final losses at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid.

The final two of these have been in opposition to Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas, each of whom play with a one-handed backhand, identical to Federer.

Thiem, the 2018 runner-up to Nadal at Roland Garros, has defeated the Spaniard 4 occasions on clay.

“There’s a new wave coming by with the one-handed backhand that may counter a few of Rafa’s spins and lefty play,” mentioned Federer, a four-time runner-up in Paris.

Exterior of Djokovic and Federer, world quantity 4 Thiem and sixth-ranked Tsitsipas are the probably candidates to dethrone Nadal.

The identical can’t be mentioned for Germany’s Alexander Zverev, for thus lengthy touted because the brightest star of the so-called ‘Subsequent Gen’.

The German’s run to the quarter-finals final yr stays his finest Slam efficiency whereas he has but to get past the final eight at any of the European clay occasions within the run-up to Paris.

“He has misplaced his self-confidence, he will get very offended, will get down and destroys himself,” mentioned compatriot Tommy Haas, a former world quantity two.

“What he urgently wants is successful.”

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