Prediction: Djokovic Will Win the Double Career Slam

I don’t usually make many predictions because tennis is too unpredictable and I am a bit superstitious but this prediction is not that Djokovic will win the French Open this year. Just that he will win it again at some point.

With the Australian Open hype having settled down a bit and Fedfans getting their fairytale ending it is time to get back to reality and look ahead to the future. Currently, things have quieted down a bit in tennis with none of the big four back in action since Melbourne.

Since the first major of the year, Dimitrov has continued his good form with a title in Sofia while Alex Zverev continued to show why he is the most promising young talent on tour right now with his second title in Montpellier.

  • Why I Like Djokovic’s Chances in Paris Again This Year

I’ll let you in on a little secret. When I was a Federer fan I could never see where his 18th slam title would come from but since I became a Djokovic fan I felt it was almost inevitable that he would win another slam.

The only reason that he wasn’t winning #18 was because of how well Djokovic was playing. I knew Federer was still playing at an incredibly high level and that all the talk of decline from his fans was just sour grapes that he kept losing to Djokovic.

Of course, since Federer won the Australian Open his fans have no problem admitting that he is still playing brilliantly, that he is the GOAT, etc. After all, he defeated his eternal nemesis Nadal in the final. And that after being a break down in the fifth set.

Although I felt during 2015 and 2016 that Federer was bound to win another slam, I thought his chances took a serious hit when he pulled out of the 2016 season after Wimbledon. I thought that might have been the final nail in the coffin for his chances.

But then he gets thrown a lifeline in Australia with the speeding up of the courts and miraculously wins #18 after a 6-month break at the age of 35. You could attribute it to luck but that would show ignorance or bias.

Federer has knocked long and hard at the door for an 18th slam title and he never stopped believing. Not even after having to take a 6-month break from the sport. The slowing down of conditions on tour in the last few years didn’t suit Federer but he kept believing and trying.

So you just gotta tip your hat and congratulate him. Since Djokovic won the personal slam I was expecting some kind of response from Federer and although I didn’t expect it to happen at the Australian Open I think it is good for tennis.

Djokovic was already on his way back after his slump with his performances in London and Doha and the fact that Federer won #18 at his best slam will motivate Djokovic a lot I think. What happened in Melbourne was against the run of play.

It wasn’t supposed to happen. Djokovic was supposed to win the title and return to dominance of the tennis world. But then the organizers decided to change the court speed which threw a spanner in the works.

Since Melbourne Djokovic has opted not to play in Dubai which means his first tournament back is only in March in Indian Wells. I think that is probably a good decision. He needs to save himself and focus on winning majors now.

Historically, Indian Wells and Miami has been some of his best hunting grounds where he has won 5 and 6 titles respectively. That is a good place to come back and start gaining some winning momentum for a very important clay court season.

  • What Would a Second French Open Title Mean For Djokovic?

With Federer winning the Australian Open the hype was high as usual and many people have proclaimed him the undisputed GOAT. No doubt winning his 18th slam at 35 is highly impressive but it’s not as simple as that.

Federer still trails his two biggest rivals in the head-to-head and the win against Nadal didn’t do much to offset his 12-23 head-to-head with Nadal or his 3-9 head-to-head in slams and 1-3 head-to-head in Melbourne with Nadal.

Federer has also fallen behind 22-23 with Djokovic in recent times and 6-9 in slams including 1-3 in slam finals. No doubt Federer has a tremendous game and resume but it is not perfect. His backhand and mental strength are less than perfect and so is his tennis on slow courts.

Compared to other surfaces his results on clay have been relatively poor. He won five or more titles at all the slams except for the French Open where he won only one title. And that was when he didn’t have to face Nadal.

This is where Djokovic has a golden opportunity to carve out an even more unique legacy for himself. It is already very unique in that he won the personal slam, the most Masters titles, won the highest percentage of Masters titles, have a winning record against all of the big four members and had the most dominant season in history in 2015.

If he wins the double career slam he would become the first player in history to do so on three different surfaces. Djokovic already has a more complete game and a higher peak level than Federer.

If he wins a double career slam it would just emphasize that fact. The amateur view is that grand slam titles are the only measure of tennis greatness. As an expert, I can tell you that is simply not true.

Balance in a tennis resume is more important than impressive numbers. Federer has some impressive numbers but he also has some serious flaws in his resume. I’m not saying Djokovic will surpass Federer, but I believe he has the potential to do so.

But he does need to win more slams and it would help an awful lot if he starts by winning the double career slam at the French Open this year. Faster surfaces may be making a comeback on tour but clay will always remain a slow surface.

So I feel like Djokovic needs to take advantage of that. Not that Djokovic has anything to prove on fast surfaces. He’s won multiple Wimbledon and US Open titles and he isn’t vulnerable on any surface the way Nadal is on fast courts or Federer on slow courts.

He is the most complete of the big four but I feel like he should prove that with another French Open title. He is too good on clay to have won only one French Open.

  • Who Is the French Open Favorite?

The Australian Open not only saw the return of Federer but also the return of Nadal. Nadal missed out big time because he would have won the double career slam and would have been very close to if not ahead of Federer in the GOAT debate.

But he will still take a lot of positives from Australia and is already called the favorite by many to win a 10th French Open this year. I don’t mind him being called the favorite but that doesn’t mean he is the favorite.

Nadal hasn’t won a set against Djokovic in their last seven meetings, including the 2015 French Open quarterfinal where Djokovic won 7-5, 6-3, 6-1. If Djokovic does well in Indian Wells and Miami and goes on a hot run during the clay court season he is going to be hard to stop in Paris this year.

After the Australian Open failure, I expect Djokovic to be highly motivated and the courts only slow down from here on which favors him. There will be plenty of obstacles along the way like the newly inspired Federer and Nadal, Murray, Wawrinka, and the younger players like Dimitrov, Raonic, Nishikori, Zverev, and Thiem.

And let’s not forget that Del Potro makes his return in Delray Beach. There is an interesting time ahead now and I don’t know who the French Open favorite is but I do know that Djokovic will be highly motivated which will make him awfully hard to stop.

But even if he doesn’t win it this year I think he will win a second French Open title at some point which would be another massive and unique achievement that could propel him ahead of Federer in the GOAT debate.

Ps. Come to think of it, I am happy Federer won in Melbourne and not Nadal even though I said I hope for the opposite before the final. Nadal winning the double career slam would have been a bit tragic given his one-dimensional game. Failing to do so gave Djokovic a very unique opportunity.

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11 Comments

  1. “But then he gets thrown a lifeline in Australia with the speeding up of the courts ”

    Let’s be honest, he is one the few players who seemed to get a nail in the coffin because of slowing down the courts. First, they had the Rebound Ace at the AO and it changed to Plexicushion (which I think is slower). Wimbledon, well, just look at how Sampras played in his heydays. Federer is the one who had to adapt his game because of that.

    I hope Federer keeps playing at a high level and that they speed up the courts at Wimbledon and that the roof closes (superfast play). I doubt Djokovic would be able to do much in those circumstances against Federer. If not convinced, look at the point in the Wimbledon 2008 final, 2-2 in sets, first game, Federer serves at 15-0 and look at how high Nadal’s ROS bounces. It looked like clay.I feel like both Nadal and Djokovic got a chance to win multiple Wimbledon titles because of the slower conditions.

    Regarding Djokovic at the FO. I am still not very convinced. He did beat Nadal at the FO, but that was a Nadal at his lowest we’ve ever seen him play on clay in his career. Also,it was in the quarterfinals. In both FO finals, Djokovic lost without really having a chance.

    Maybe you should make a post about who is a better clay court player, Federer or Djokovic. Djokovic has more titles, both one FO title, but Federer has made it to one more FO final.

    Anyway, if Nadal is at his best at the FO, no one can beat him. Djokovic couldn’t do that in 2012, 2013 or 2014. Federer can’t do it at all. Nadal is 9-0 in FO finals. Even when Djokovic was in control of most of the points played in that SF 2013, Nadal hit ridiculous winners out of nowhere. He is the ultimate beast on clay. I don’t like him, but he is the best on clay.

    Federer lost 4 RG finals against Nadal. If Djokovic was to play 2 more finals against Nadal at the FO, I doubt Djokovic would win even one of those. He might push him to 5 sets though. Don’t forget, it’s 6-1 (!) in favour of Nadal at the FO against Djokovic. Federer and Djokovic’s best performance against Nadal in the FO final is a 1-3 loss in sets. Both could only win one set against Nadal :-(

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    Davidrodriguez Reply:

    Lol you don’t like nadal lol. 2 french opens final him and djoker played you said djoker never had a chance. Both were tight 4 setters 7-5 in the fifth double fault by djokovic if not who knows maybe tiebreak and 5th set? Definitely very small margins at that time nadal had mental edge over djoker at FO. FO 13 djoker choked stumbling into net 14 FO djoker got a bad stomach virus night before final. Not anymore mental edge at FO or anywhere. Since djoker beat nadal at FO its 15-0 in sets to djoker. He is a huge favorite to win fo IF he is well physically. Too many problems with body since last FO he needs break for body but strategy wise, mentally, overall game its obvious he is top dog. Just look at the odds from the bookies. Those guys know whats up they have a lot of money on the line. Even djoker at 85% is a favorite over anyone at FO.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yup, it is much closer between Djokovic and Nadal at the FO than the 6-1 h2h suggest. Djokovic had some bad luck at the FO. I was convinced he would defeat Nadal in the 2011 final when he was at his physical peak but Federer played the match if his life to defeat him. 2014 final I thought he’d get it done too but he was vomiting on the court. In the 2012 final the umpire gave in to Nadal when Djokovic had taken the momentum in the 4th set with a break. It is truly astonishing the amount of bad luck Djokovic had at the FO. Even last year when he won it he had to play two days in a row thanks to the rain.

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    Mary Culbertson Reply:

    Good answer! I still remember those matches and everything you said was true. And also remember FO 13 besides the net incident, Nadal argued with the chair um that two of Novak’s points were out. He kept arguing with him until um gave in. Hawk eye showed they were both in but they don’t use that on clay. Lucky for Nadal.

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    Mary Culbertson Reply:

    Ru-an, read your reply after replying to David. Maybe it was 2012 and not 2013 when Nadal kept arguing at um and um gave in.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    That’s why I said 2012.

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  2. I agree that Djokovic will most likely win RG again at some point. It just seems inevitable considering his history in Paris. He’s gone through a bit of a slump lately, but it’s only a matter of time before he’s back on track. I heard rumors that he and his wife are expecting second child, so if they ever had any issues before (assuming there was any truth to the gossip) they must have worked them out by now. There are probably a number of reasons for Novak’s slump, but I’m sure having his family life sorted out is going to have a positive effect on his tennis.

    It’s still very early, but it looks like RG looks is going to be a very exciting event again this year. Just when I had finally written off Nadal for good, he found his form again. I wonder if he’s back for real or if the AO was just one last blip. I guess we’ll now for sure when the clay season starts. He might end up being the favorite to win RG again, but I think it largely depends on what kind of form Djokovic will be in. I still think Nole, if close to his best, is the favorite.

    As for the goat debate, by the time the final chapter has been written, I think it will be hard to proclaim anyone undisputed goat. This will always be very subjective and it will probably go on long after the players retire. Roger has a firm grip on it at the moment, if you go by the numbers, but who knows how things will look in a few years? I kind of stopped putting too much faith into the whole goat thing years ago. For me, Nadal shattered the illusion of a perfect player when he exposed weaknesses in Federer’s game and beat him repeatedly. At the same time Nadal was always too one-dimensional to ever replace him as the goat. Maybe Djokovic is more complete, but even he is vulnerable in certain situations. Tennis will always be about matchups, and the players will always be at the mercy of the playing conditions.

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    David rodriguez Reply:

    Djoker is not 100% physically, much slower than 2015 early 2016. Backhand weak and serve too. He needs break for body mentally he is always the strongest but his body starting to fall apart he needs break physically

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Good points, BE. Djokovic is vulnerable to Wawrinka it seems, although it’s not as obvious as Federer’s vulnerability to Nadal. It’s going to be interesting to see how many more titles Djokovic can rack up in the coming years. And yes, the GOAT debate will probably never be settled. It will be a matter of personal opinion.

    ‘For me, Nadal shattered the illusion of a perfect player when he exposed weaknesses in Federer’s game and beat him repeatedly.’

    Nice line 👍

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  3. 1. Will Djokovic win this year’s French Open? I honestly don’t know who will win this year’s FO. Right now I don’t have any favorite. I will decide my favorite from Dubai until Rome. Dubai is written for Murray, not Federer or Wawrinka. The FO is Roger’s worst slam and I think even he believes he can’t win it. And Wawrinka is so up and down that predictions for him based upon previous tournaments are useless. I have to include Andy in my list of favorites because he did reach the final last year and he has improved his clay court game.
    2. Djokovic can get the nod as the favorite if he wins where he historically has won. That being Indian Wells, Miami, and Rome. If he wins these three tournaments, he’s my favorite. Now if loses at any of these tournaments early, then it gets interesting.
    3. Nadal can only become my favorite, before the tournament, if he wins one of the masters 1000 tournaments on clay (Madrid, Rome, Monte Carlo) against Djokovic. He’s got to get that monkey off his back if he wants to have any chance against Novak in Roland Garros.
    4. Nothing Murray does will make me consider him an outright favorite. Unless he sweeps all 5 of the masters 1000 tournaments against the other members of the big 4.
    5. I’ve never had Stan Wawrinka as a pre-tournament favorite and I’m not starting now. Nothing he does will get him that recognition. Although, if he reaches the final he’s my favorite.
    6. Federer will not be a pre-tournament favorite for me as well. I honestly could name 4 or 5 players I would put above him. Not too mention that countless more players can beat him on clay than any other surface. Although, I do believe this might be the most important tournament for him and Novak. For Roger this is his best opportunity to get ranking points and put himself back into the top 4. This is important because after Roland Garros is Wimbledon. Roger would much rather potentially play Novak or Andy in the semifinals rather than the quarterfinals. For Novak this is put up or shut up time. If he wins the FO he could well be back to his dominating ways. Not to mention he would grab the double grand slam. But if he loses it might be time to look for another voice.
    7. Novak fans need to be somewhat worried if Novak loses in the French Open. After the 2014 French Open i expected Nadal to continue his dominance (3 of 5 majors won) but it never happened. He has never fully recovered. Same thing with Novak. I expected him to continue his dominance but he suddenly faltered. It eerily resembles Nadal’s demise so far, meaning he hasn’t won a major since. However, I am a lot more optimistic about Djokovic than i am with nadal.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Good thoughts, Sttyre. Djokovic has slipped before after a dominant run like he did after 2011. I don’t think he will take so long to recover again but we will see. I totally agree that the FO is put up or shut up time. I think the break he is now taking will do him good. He was struggling a lot with physical burnout last year. His body and minds need the rest. Then he must come back and dominate in IW and Miami. If he goes on a hot run in the clay court season and wins the FO he could become unstoppable again.

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