Following Novak Djokovic's win in the Australian Open last month, the age-old question of whether or not one man can win all four Grand Slams in one year has jumped to the forefront of the minds of tennis fans and writers the world over.
History suggests that this is a near-impossible task in the men’s game, but given the form of the Serb, is it inconceivable that he could emulate the great Rod Laver? The Australian was the last man to win all four Grand Slams back in 1969, and there have been plenty of great players try and fail to repeat that feat ever since.
Having previously won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, the 25-year-old will go into those tournaments full of confidence. The French Open is the one Slam to have eluded Djokovic so far during his illustrious career, but he has made massive strides on clay over the last couple of years, as he proved last year when he went all the way to the final before losing to to Rafael Nadal.
Nadal has been the king of clay for years now, but he is only just returning from a seven-month injury layoff, which raises doubts about the Spaniard's ability to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Djokovic. The Serb will be hoping that 2013 could just be his chance to end his wait to win the French Open, and if he can manage that at Roland Garros, he would be halfway toward rewriting the history books of the modern era.
It is fair to say that before winning Wimbledon in 2011, Djokovic had struggled on the grass of SW19, much in the same way he has struggled to adopt his big-hitting game to the surface in Paris.
The world No. 1 will be confident of building on that victory. However, Roger Federer will be gunning to retain his title, while Andy Murray is sure to be all-out this year to win on home soil after having lost the Grand Slam monkey off his back at the U.S. Open last year. That said, if Djokovic arrives in London in the form he showed in Melbourne and on the back of a win in the French Open, he will be the one to beat at the All England Club come June.
The simple fact is that Novak Djokovic has developed a remarkable will to win over the last couple of years, which has made him arguably the best player in the world. He showed that toughness when winning the Australian Open for a fourth time last month when he defeated rival Andy Murray in four sets in the final.
Djokovic once again proved that he is the man to beat when it matters, and barring injury, it would be a major surprise if he failed to reach at least the semifinals of each of the remaining Grand Slams this year.
It is hard to see any player outside of Djokovic, Murray, Federer or Nadal winning a Grand Slam in 2013, and it would be a major shock if a new contender were to emerge.
Federer is clearly not getting any younger. Most believe that grass remains his most realistic chance to win a Grand Slam, leaving Murray as the Serb’s main obstacle while the speed of Nadal's return to full health remains in question. The Scot defeated Djokovic in a five-set U.S. Open final last year, and although that result was reversed recently in Australia, Murray is likely to be the main threat to Djokovic's quest for the "quadruple."
Taking all of that into account, Djokovic boasts a great chance of matching Rod Laver's 44-year-old record, with the French Open in May likely to be the crucial tournament. It's a tall order, but records are there to be broken, as the saying goes, and if one player in the past 40 years is capable of holding all four Grand Slams in the same calendar year, then Djokovic could well be the man.