Novak Djokovic’s throne is in danger.
Of course, that’s if it hasn’t been taken already.
After absolutely dominating Rafael Nadal over the course of a year, Djokovic lost his third straight match to his rival in the 2012 French Open final. What Djoker still has going for him, though, is the fact that all three triumphs were on Nadal’s favorite surface: clay.
Djokovic must prove that Nadal is a one-surface wonder to finish out the summer on top of the tennis world.
Howard Fendrich of The Miami Herald reported that Djokovic addressed his rivalry with Nadal after his latest loss to him. He said: “We are very young, and we played over 30 times against each other. Hopefully we can have many more battles in the next years.”
Djokovic and Nadal’s rivalry is a special one. If either competitor manages to own the other, the superior player has an opportunity to go down in history as the greatest tennis player of all time.
They’ll both go down as legends no matter what, but without a stranglehold on the other, neither will be able to leapfrog Roger Federer in career grand slam victories.
While Nadal is on a hot streak, Djokovic is still ranked the world’s No. 1 player for a reason. Former player and seven-time major champion Mats Wilander believes that Djokovic definitely still has the edge over Nadal. He said after the French Open (via The Miami Herald):
If you're going to build a player that's going to trouble Nadal, you build Robin Soderling with the movement of Novak Djokovic. And suddenly, Novak Djokovic at No. 1 is hitting the ball like Soderling, but he moves like Novak…He's the one to beat (at Wimbledon)—Novak is still the one to beat, for sure.
Djokovic should enter the 2012 Wimbledon as the favorite. If he succeeds, he’ll cement himself as the best tennis player in the world. If Nadal defeats him, his grasp on the label will slip.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.