Additional Thoughts On the Rome Masters and Upcoming French Open

The Rome Masters was an interesting event and since I haven’t blogged a lot of late I wanted to make one more post before the French Open draw comes out. There is an exciting time ahead in the tennis world and there is a lot more to be said.

I have already made it clear what I think about Djokovic’s week in Rome as well as the others for that matter. But I want to go into some more detail here because I didn’t say everything I wanted to say. A lot has been made of Djokovic’s ‘bizarre’ week in Rome.

I think there has been a certain amount of overreaction from fans. I admitted in my last post that he had a bizarre week but I also made it clear that he did what needed to be done. He could not have done any better under the circumstances.

This must be clearly understood. Someone commented on my last post that Djokovic not only had a brutal draw but he also had a tough schedule by playing at night and then having to play the final with less than 24 hours of rest during the day.

It was reminiscent of the French Open last yeat where Djokovic had to play the semis and the final over three days after the semis against Murray were delayed due to rain. It proved to be his undoing because he was not fresh enough in the final.

And that was on top of the fact that he had to play Nadal, Murray, and peak Wawrinka in consecutive matches. It was ridiculous but the upside of that is that his draw can only get better this year.

There is simply no way that he can have as tough a draw as that and have no rest day before the final again. I mean the tournament organisers couldn’t make that happen if they tried. Make no mistake about it: this is Djokovic tournament to lose.

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If he loses it, it is very likely that he will only have himself to blame. Sure the pressure is huge and the odds have been against Djokovic at the French Open thus far but that can’t be used as an excuse. You may as well say he is due for some good luck there.

It all depends on how he looks at it. If he believes deep down that he is just not meant to win the French then he won’t. But it is hard to believe this is the case. He showed an immense faith in his own abilities when he won the US Open last year.

Now that was the perfect preparation for must be done in Paris this year. As a champion, you are always looking for the next challenge. This is it for Djokovic. This is the ultimate challenge. And I bet he relishes it.

But make no mistake about it either: there is no bigger challenge in tennis at this point. Neither Federer nor Nadal has been able to win four consecutive slams and Djokovic’s opportunity to do so comes at his cursed slam as well.

It is a seemingly impossible task and of course, he can fail. But just the fact that he is in this situation is exciting and great for tennis. If he does win the French he would gain tennis immortality.

He would finally have completed the career slam but he would also have done something Federer or Nadal could not do. It would be the greatest achievement is tennis since Laver won the calendar slam in ’69.

Djokovic would be well on his way to becoming the GOAT. The ruins among Fedal fans would reach unprecedented levels. That only adds to the intrigue of the upcoming French Open.

If Djokovic fails it will be tough on his fans too but since neither Federer nor Nadal won four slams in a row their fans will have nothing to gloat about.

  • Was Rome A Sign That Djokovic Will Choke At The French Open?

Something else that is worth looking at again is the irritation Djokovic showed on the court in Rome. It that a sign of what is to come in Paris? Not necessarily in my opinion. Clearly it is was a result of the pressure he is feeling to win the French this year but it doesn’t all of a sudden mean he is doomed to fail again this year.

He may as well show up in Paris and look very comfortable. Of course, there is a big mental barrier for him to overcome but like I said he has already faced the worst conditions there. It can only get easier than last year.

At the same time with every passing year that he does not win the French, it seems a little further out of reach. I’m not saying it will be easy. Everyone knows it won’t be. Will he choke when the moment of truth arises?

That is the question on everyone’s mind. The way I see it he didn’t necessarily choke at the French until now. A lot of it was just pure bad luck. And then that bad luck seems to gain a momentum of its own.

For this reason, it is very important that Djokovic keeps the faith and keeps visualizing himself lifting the trophy. Your luck is bound to turn if you keep believing. He must realize he is currently by far the best player in the world and the clear favorite for the title.

Nevermind the past. The only obstacle is the one you set up in your mind. And I think Djokovic is very much aware of the power of his mind which is why I have faith that he can get the job done.

Judging by what happened in Rome you might be inclined to believe he is getting ready for another ‘choke’ at the French but maybe that was just a way of releasing some of the tension. I’m not going to assume anything.

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Djokovic is an extremely experienced player with immense faith in his own abilities. The more people say he can’t do something the more he wants to prove them wrong. He faced astonishingly difficult circumstances at the US Open last year and got the job done.

He was not only playing against a red hot Federer but also a fanatical crowd and his history at the US Open. I have been over it all before. If he can come through that situation he sure as hell can come through the French Open as well.

Yes, it is probably an even tougher challenge in terms of his history at the French but it is hard to believe he will have to deal with a crowd like that again. As far as the opponent goes if he plays Nadal in the final that would be about on par with Federer at the US Open.

But at least he destroyed him last year in the quarters and just defeated him in straight sets again. I don’t think he would fear Nadal much. I don’t think he will fear anyone much. What he would fear is another draw like last year. But what are the odds?

For one thing, it would have to rain again in the semis so that the match gets postponed to the next day. I don’t think the odds of that happening are too good. And then he would have to get a draw like Nadal, Murray, and peak Wawrinka in succession too which is highly unlikely.

The only way in which he does not win the title this year is if he gets another ridiculous draw or chokes. In the first instance, it would be fair to conclude that there is some conspiracy against him.

As for the second instance, I don’t think there is really a reason for him to choke. Yes, he is trying to do something incredibly difficult and you can’t really blame him if he fails, but I think he relishes the opportunity and has the champions mentality that it takes to get the job done.

Can’t wait for the draw!

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2 Comments

  1. It is unpredictable how it will pan out. Djokovic’s psychology will be crucial. However, it is also clear that the difference between him and the others is not as big on clay as it is on hard. It will be great tournament to watch and lets the best man win.

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  2. I agree a lot with what’s written in the article. As much as it is Djokovic’s title to lose, we must bear in mind now that Nadal is going to play him in the semi-finals. Now, I know and understand that Nadal is not at his beastly best, but in Paris on the dry sand and slow clay under the hot sun at noon, Nadal is a monster. He can rip those amazing forehands from any angle, and the depth of the court allows him to play from far-behind the baseline and defend forever. Djokovic will be forced to come to the net and create points, which has never been his forte. So, we can only wait and watch. However, if Djokovic does win it, then he would potentially have as many slams as Nadal has before the end of this year. No one is stopping the Djokernaut then.

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