Having recently overtaken Roger Federer’s record of 310 weeks as World No. 1, Novak Djokovic now has his sights set on the record Grand Slam tally of Federer and Rafael Nadal. The Serb is just two Slams behind his rivals at the moment, and he is keen to reduce the gap further at this year's French Open.
Novak Djokovic has recovered from the muscle tear he picked up at the Australian Open, and will launch an assault on the Miami Masters later this month. But the 33-year-old is especially motivated to do well in the claycourt season, particularly at Roland Garros, where he has won the title just once (2016).
During a recent interview with France.tv, Djokovic talked about his priorities for the rest of the season - with the French Open being high on the list.
"Yes I can say it, it's my biggest priority now to win as many Grand Slam titles as possible," the Serb said. "I'm trying to organize my schedule around that, especially for Roland Garros this year."
But Novak Djokovic is well aware that his task will not be easy, given the small matter of Rafael Nadal's near-invincibility in Paris. Djokvoic acknowledged that you have to be at your very best to beat the Spaniard at Roland Garros, which is widely considered to be the toughest challenge in tennis.
“(The French Open) still has a big problem called Rafael Nadal! But we'll try,” Djokovic added. "If you have any advice, don't hesitate! You must be on top physically and mentally. I once beat Nadal at Roland Garros but I lost very, very often. And I think that's the biggest challenge you have in tennis today. But I love challenges, it requires you to give your best.”
A look at Novak Djokovic's record against Rafael Nadal at the French Open
In the 102 matches that Rafael Nadal has played at the French Open, he has tasted defeat just twice - to Robin Soderling in 2009, and to Novak Djokovic in 2015.
Nadal was going through the worst season of his career in 2015 when Djokovic piled on his misery by ousting him in the Roland Garros quarterfinals. The Serb won in straight sets, losing just nine games in the process.
Novak Djokovic still couldn’t win the title that year, as he lost to Stan Wawrinka in the final. But in the following year Djokovic did get the job done, beating Andy Murray in the final.
All combined, Novak Djokovic has faced Rafael Nadal eight times at Roland Garros, losing on seven of those occasions. Nadal has defeated Djokovic at the event in 2006 (QF), 2007 (SF), 2008 (SF), 2012 (F), 2013 (SF), 2014 (F), 2015 (QF), and 2020 (F).
The latest fixture saw Rafael Nadal inflicting a brutal beatdown upon Djokovic, with a scoreline of 6-0, 6-2, 7-5.