5 iconic Novak Djokovic matches at the French Open
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has been near-unassailable over the past two years, and with a new coach, new diet and fitter than before, looks like he could break his French Open jinx.
The Serb, one of the top clay-court players of the game in terms of win percentages, has yet to find success on the claycourts of Roland-Garros. He has made the finals on three occasions, thwarted twice by nine-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal, and once, most recently by Swiss Stan Wawrinka.
Despite having won only a single clay title this year – at the Madrid Masters – Djokovic still remains the favourite to win the French Open. Given Rafael Nadal is in the same half as the World No. 1 fans will not be able to see a finals clash between the pair, but things could get interesting given Nadal’s resurgence to form in the clay season; the Spaniard, the most successful claycourt player of all time, swept titles at the Monte Carlo Masters and the Barcelona Open this year.
On his 29th birthday, we take a look at five of Djokovic’s French Open appearances that truly stand out:
Vs Rafael Nadal, French Open quarter-final 2015
The top-ranked player faced 9-time champion Rafael Nadal relatively early on in the tournament, and despite Nadal’s immense success it was Djokovic who went into the match the favourite to win.
Sixth seed Nadal was thoroughly dominated by Djokovic well into the first set, up two breaks of serve on the Spaniard at 4-0. Suddenly, Nadal found a renewed momentum to claw his way back, winning four successive games to equalize Djokovic.
He then came level again at 5-5 with Nadal’s storming serve proving only to confuse Djokovic. He would ultimately struggle till he won that set 7-5.
The second set began fairly routinely, with each player holding serve and neither really picking up the pace; and it was then that Djokovic upped the tempo. He pulled out strong backhands, forehands and every trick in the book to take a 5-3 lead over his Spanish rival.
At this point, proficient baseliner Novak Djokovic pulled off a risky move – bringing out the serve-and-volley, and to fantastic effect. The move left Nadal flummoxed near the net and unable to combat the Serb’s attack.
Djokovic won the second set 6-3 – and with it sealed the match with a final set to go.
His phenomenal return with tactical genius saw Nadal’s momentum seriously broken. Thereafter, Djokovic all but cleaned the floor with Nadal, lading 5-1 with Nadal holding a single service game in the entire set. He’d win the final set 6-1 after Nadal taxing him in the first, with Nadal’s resolve and his serve both broken in the end.