French Open 2011: Are Federer and Nadal Ceding Dominance to Novak Djokovic?

Sean ClairCorrespondent IMay 19, 2011

ROME, ITALY - MAY 15:  Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after victory in the final against Rafael Nadal of Spain during day eight of the Internazoinali BNL D'Italia at the Foro Italico Tennis Centre on May 15, 2011 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

37-0 to start the season. 39 straight matches won. Novak Djokovic may not hold the No. 1 position in the rankings, but at this pace, he will be there very soon.

Novak Djokovic is off to one of the best starts in tennis history, as he beat Rafael Nadal this past Sunday in Rome to win his seventh title of the season, 37th match of the year (against no losses), and his fourth win against Nadal in four matches (all finals) this season.

The dream season will head to Paris next week, and a big question is have Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal ceded their reign of power in men's tennis to Djokovic?

The answer at this point is an overwhelming yes! 

Roger Federer has been on somewhat of a downward trend for about two years now. However, it's not as if he has fallen off the face of the earth—he is still ranked third in the world.

The last two big matches Djokovic and Federer have played have both been in majors, and have both been won by Djokovic. Both occurred in semifinals—last year at the U.S. Open and this year at the Australian Open.

Rafael Nadal was the dominating force the past two years, winning three grand slams last season and overtaking Federer as the clear world No. 1.

However, it is now Djokovic who is on a pace not seen in years. There are some key points that started late last season that have lead to Djokovic's dominance this year.

First off is his confidence, which in large part came from his brilliant performance for Serbia in their Davis Cup win in the final over France last year.

Djokovic played masterfully in the finals, clinching the final match, which has only helped his confidence this season.

Second has been his new (or old depending on how you look at it) serve. Going into last season, Djokovic went to a new serve, which wasn't effective as Djokovic saw moderate results at best.

In the latter part of the season, he went back to his old serve and saw his game improve dramatically.

Lastly is a new wave of maturity on the court. In the past, Djokovic wore his emotions on his sleeve and was somewhat of a child—both on and off the court. 

Ever since his post-match press conference at the U.S. Open in 2008 (he ripped Andy Roddick and fans) he has become much more well mannered.

There is less pouting and more head-down-and-get-the-job-done mannerisms, which in turn has helped him focus more.

Beating Nadal in Paris may be the hardest thing to do in tennis, but Djokovic may be up for the challenge come next week. It won't be easy, and before he gets to see Nadal he may have to go through Federer, who hasn't been too bad in Paris himself.

Whatever the French Open holds, it should come as no surprise to see Djokovic work his way deep into the second week, with a great chance of capturing his first French Open.