The tennis world is a rather strange place these days. The status quo is being revamped and expectations are been readjusted. One could even say that nothing is as it should be.
Only a few weeks ago, world No. 1 Rafael Nadal, fresh from two scathing losses in two finals against Novak Djokovic, was touted to rampage through the clay court season and to silence his critics. Well, the din remains and for his fans, it's nigh unbearable.
He won the Australian Open and numerous other tournaments earlier this year. He's eked out a tremendous unbeaten streak and were he simply to reach the final of this year's French Open, he'd become the top-ranked player in the world.
In contrast, the current world No. 1 has been short of his best form. Four losses in four finals to Novak Djokovic have taken a chunk out of his confidence—in fact, in the minds of quite a few people, he isn't the favorite for a tournament where he is a five-time defending champion. Such has been his circumstance.
Truth be told, Novak Djokovic's emergence this year has been the cause of Nadal's under-performance—but there may be a way out.
Nadal's performances at Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome earlier this year showed that he was essentially better than everyone on tour bar Djokovic.
So what if Nadal never has to meet Djokovic?
Enter Roger Federer. The Swiss maestro has a winning record against Novak Djokovic on clay and he also has more experience of Grand Slam semifinals under his belt; more importantly though, he has the aggressive, flat-hitting game that seems the most likely to trouble Djokovic.
If Federer defeats Novak Djokovic—and it's a big "if"—Nadal immediately becomes the favorite for the title.
Essentially, Federer could hand Rafael Nadal—his biggest rival—the 2011 French Open title. Digest that folks. Federer could help Nadal win a Grand Slam title.
The tennis world is a strange place these days.