World No. 1 Novak Djokovic suffered a disappointing end to his North American hardcourt swing with a default in the fourth round of the 2020 US Open. He will now be looking to redeem himself as the tour heads to Europe for the claycourt swing.
But with the change in surfaces, the Serb is not the center of attention anymore. Despite being out of action for six long months, 12-time Roland Garros winner Rafael Nadal is everybody’s favorite to lift the title once again.
Djokovic has been the best player in 2020 despite his campaign at Flushing Meadows, but he would have a tough time taking down Nadal in Paris. In addition, he might also be strongly challenged by 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem.
In a recent conversation with Ubitennis, Novak Djokovic named Thiem as the second favorite to win the French Open after Nadal. The Serb also talked at length about Thiem's breakthrough performance at the US Open, and how he fully deserved to win his maiden Slam there.
It would be interesting to see how Dominic Thiem's career goes on from here: Novak Djokovic
Dominic Thiem will be heading into the French Open on the back of some scintillating form. Having finished as the runner-up to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open earlier this year, the Austrian won a titanic battle over good friend Alexander Zverev in New York on Sunday to clinch his maiden Major.
Novak Djokovic was full of praise for Dominic Thiem during the interview, and expressed optimism about the Austrian's career going forward.
"Dominic Thiem deserves this title probably more than anybody. He’s such a nice guy, and he works extremely hard. He was so close in the past couple of years and finally he has it," Djokovic said.
"It would be interesting to see how his career goes on from here, but it’s a huge relief," he added.
Djokovic then recalled the happy memories from his first triumph at the biggest stage - the 2008 Australian Open.
"I remember my first Grand Slam title, obviously getting that first monkey out of your back, in a way, to say it’s a huge relief," Djokovic reminisced.
Novak Djokovic added that after the first breakthrough, things tend to get easier over the rest of your career. Naturally, Dominic Thiem will be a more liberated player coming into Paris. The pressure will instead be on Djokovic himself, who has failed to reach the final of the French Open since his long-awaited victory in 2016.
Dominic Thiem has beaten Novak Djokovic in two of the last three Roland Garros editions. Therefore, it did not come as a surprise when the Serb pegged the Austrian as the second favorite after Rafael Nadal to win the title this year.
"Both of these guys possess a huge tennis quality on all surfaces to win titles and Grand Slams. We have Roland Garros coming in a couple weeks’ time, and Dominic is right behind Rafa, on clay [as] the favorite to go all the way," Djokovic said.Published 15 Sep 2020, 22:38 IST