Novak Djokovic's Recent Inconsistencies Make Him the X-Factor at French Open

Dan TalintyreSenior Analyst IIMay 19, 2013

ROME, ITALY - MAY 17:  Novak Djokovic of Serbia shows his emotion  against Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in their quarter final round match during day six of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2013 at the Foro Italico Tennis Centre on May 17, 2013 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic will come into the 2013 French Open with the No. 1 ranking firmly in his pocket but without the pre-tournament form he would have desired.

The Serbian international looked very strong heading into Roland Garros with a defeat of Rafael Nadal on red clay earlier in the month. However, he then backed that up with consecutive defeats to Grigor Dimitrov (second round, Madrid Open) and Tomas Berdych (quarterfinals, Italian Open) to seemingly undo all the hard work he'd done and cast a huge question mark about his French Open chances.

The French Open remains the only outstanding jewel in Djokovic's crown, and with the Serbian playing some excellent tennis earlier in the year, 2013 was looking like a great opportunity to end that drought—especially given Nadal's injury problems at the time.

Yet so much can change in a week of tennis. Djokovic has gone from being a possible favorite to being a distant second behind the clay-court king, Nadal.

Nadal's stock is rising with each and every tournament and he is primed for another French Open title. Djokovic, on the other hand, will be lucky to even make it to the final at this rate and has lost the rhythm that we've become so accustomed to from him.

And yet, as we know so well, that rhythm can be just one game away.

Djokovic is truly explosive on his day and has shown that he is the best player in the world. On any surface, against any opponent—he is the world No. 1.

He showed it in the first Grand Slam of the year and could very well show it again at Roland Garros next week. After all, so much can change in a week of tennis, and as quickly as the Serbian was considered "out of form," he could again be touted as the man most likely to topple Nadal in Paris.

Djokovic—the world No. 1—is the X-factor at Roland Garros this year.

Nadal will be the clear favorite, and aside from that, there are few men capable of beating him this year.

The likes of David Ferrer, Nicolas Almagro and Roger Federer will threaten, but they do not have the dominance of Nadal. The only man capable of beating him is Djokovic, and even then, it will take a truly special performance by the 25-year-old—an X-factor performance if there was one.

Djokovic will no doubt be in full preparation-mode for the upcoming Grand Slam and told the ATP that he felt it was "the most important event of the year" for him.

How he fares over those two weeks in Paris still remains to be seen, but it's almost impossible to rule out the best player in the world here. His proven success is second to none and even on clay, stands as the best possible chance to take down Nadal and end the Spaniard's French Open dominance.

Can it happen? Absolutely. Will it happen? Well, that's still up in the air.

At the moment, the ball is seemingly in Djokovic's court.


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