There is no doubt that Novak Djokovic is the greatest tennis player in the world right now, and has been for some time. Over the last few years, continued improvement has seen him sweep aside the best in the world, but the French Open title still eludes him. Will this be the year he finally dominates in every Grand Slam?
Rafael Nadal, the “King of Clay”, has been the outstanding performer in France over the last 10 years, winning every year since 2005, with the exception of 2009 and 2015. Even the previous world number one, Roger Federer, found it difficult to knock the Spaniard from his perch. He has been runner-up to Nadal four times in the last ten years, and won it in 2009, when Nadal was famously dumped out of the competition by Robin Soderling in a massive upset.
Nadal is among the favourites to reclaim his title this year, as he is back up to full fitness after battling with injury problems over the last few years. He is yet to reach his past form, though, and was knocked out of the Australian Open in the first round. Could he bounce back at Roland Garros, or suffer yet another disappointment?
After another convincing win at the Australian Open, Djokovic is primed and ready to capitalise on the opportunity to claim the title that has evaded him thus far in his career. He came close in 2012, 2014, and 2015 as runner-up, but lost twice to Nadal and then to Stan Wawrinka last year. Wawrinka was very much the underdog, but had nothing to lose and played an aggressive game, eventually succeeding in a famous victory.
On his quest to sweep the board and pick up every major trophy this year, Djokovic will be wary about facing those who may be classed as lesser opponents. Last year was a wakeup call, and he will be eager not to throw away his chance if he gets that close again. Federer never managed to win all four Grand Slams in a year, and the Serbian would love to beat his rival in that respect. If he does succeed, then the chances of him going on to win Wimbledon and the US Open as well will look strong.
But there is always the possibility that there will be another upset like last year, or one of the other major tennis players will swoop in and claim their first Grand Slam on French soil. Wawrinka is fairly well favoured with bookies to retain his title, and Andy Murray could also be an outside contender to win for the first time.
It has been a long wait for the French Open, but that wait is almost over. The tournament at Roland Garros really signifies the start of the tennis season, and it could also see the best tennis player in the world put firmly on his path to making history.