The 2013 French Open is down to four players, with the most notable semifinals clash coming between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. While an upset of Nadal would help Djokovic, dethroning the champion would not be enough.
Djokovic needs to win the French Open to prove he's truly elite.
To be clear, there is no question that Djokovic is one of, if not the, best players in the world today. For that reason, it's fair to make the claim that he's already made that leap.
With that being said, Djokovic's legacy pales in comparison to Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer's individual feats.
This isn't a slight on the 26-year-old Serbian, as Djokovic has emerged as one of the best of his generation. What it is, however, is an acknowledgement of just how difficult it is to truly become one of the best to ever live.
That all starts with the Grand Slam.
Career Grand Slam
Novak Djokovic currently holds six Grand Slam titles, including four at the Australian Open and one each at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. With this decorated resume, it's difficult to label Djokovic as anything other than elite.
With that being said, he's no longer competing to be the best in the world but instead to be one of the greatest ever. The only way he can catch Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, his greatest rivals, is to complete the Grand Slam.
After all, both men have already achieved that very feat.
Again, Djokovic has proven that he is one of the best of his generation, but there will always be a degree of separation if he fails to win the French Open. The event clearly belongs to Rafael Nadal, but breaking through just once is all it takes to join the ranks of the greatest to ever live.
Like it or not, that's what this is all about.
Bias aside, reaching the No. 1 ranking is simply a platform for a tennis player to prove he's one of the best to ever lace up. Even without the French Open, Djokovic is on the track to proving he truly is one of those players.
By winning at Roland Garros, however, Djokovic will become the eighth player to win the career Grand Slam—Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Andre Agassi, Federer and Nadal are company anyone would like to be a part of.
This is not a need for Novak Djokovic, as the feat is so rare that no one can base their success on the feat. With that being said, Djokovic could take a step towards separating himself from Federer and Nadal if he wins at the French Open.
Having won the 2013 Australian Open, Djokovic could become the first player since Rod Laver in 1969 to win the single-season Grand Slam.
For those unfamiliar with the term, that means that Djokovic would have won the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open in one calendar year. The 44-year gap between players achieving the feat lets you know how difficult it would be.
Nadal, Federer and Djokovic have all won three out of the four in one season.
At the end of the day, failing to secure the career Grand Slam is the more glaring void on Djokovic's resume. Should he achieve said feat and win the single-season Slam in just one year, however, Djokovic could do something no one predicted.
He could make history and start down a road of surpassing the greatest of our time—it all starts at the 2013 French Open.