By Leighton Ginn
With Novak Djokovic’s impressive semifinal victory over Rafael Nadal, it’s becoming more and more clear that Nole’s chance of completing the first Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 47 years is a real possibility.
It was during the BNP Paribas Open when it struck me that no one was asking Djokovic about the Nole Slam. He came into Indian Wells, Calif., as the reigning champion of Wimbledon, U.S. Open and Australian Open. Djokovic has been to the finals of the past five Grand Slam events.
The French Open will be the final piece to the puzzle for a career Grand Slam as well as a year-round Grand Slam, where he holds all four major titles.
But Roger Federer and Nadal have also been winners of three consecutive majors only to fall short.
Federer won three consecutive majors in 2005-06 and 2006-07, but lost to Nadal both times in the French Open finals to deny him the Grand Slam.
In 2010, Nadal won the French, Wimbledon and US Open, but fell in the quarterfinals of the 2011 Australian Open to David Ferrer, where he suffered an apparent hamstring injury.
Unlike Nadal and Federer, Djokovic has a gaping hole in his resume in that he’s never won the French Open.
To get to the French Open title, he would have to get past Nadal, who has won Roland Garros a record nine times. Last year, Djokovic beat Nadal to end his 39-match winning streak on the red clay. Only Djokovic and Robin Soderling have beaten Nadal at Roland Garros.
This year, Nadal is playing much better, and you have to imagine the incentive of winning a unprecidented 10th French Open title will be a huge incentive.
But if Djokovic wins the French Open title, not only will he complete his major collection, but he will be able to accomplish something that Federer and Nadal haven’t with the four consecutive majors.
Currently, Djokovic has 11 major titles and the French would be his 12th to tie with Roy Emerson, and trailing only Federer (16), Nadal (14) and Sampras (14).
But the victory would firmly entrench Djokovic in the arguments of the greatest tennis player ever.