For the third time in as many major tournaments, Novak Djokovic is about to square off with Rafael Nadal in the final match. This time, though, a win for the Serbian will put him on the brink of history.
No man has held all four Grand Slam titles since Rod Laver won the four majors in 1969. Like Serena Williams in 2002-03, Djokovic has a shot to win a two-year Grand Slam if he triumphs over Nadal and wins this year’s French Open.
Obviously, a win at Roland Garros is far from a foregone conclusion for Djokovic, who has yet to advance past the semifinals at the French Open. However, there’s little doubt that his most dangerous competition there in 2012 would be Nadal, whom he’s already beaten six consecutive times (twice on clay).
If Nadal is ever going to reverse that trend, the French Open (which he’s won six of the last seven years) is clearly the place to do it. Still, Djokovic’s momentum will be tough to stop if he wins again in Melbourne.
Djokovic’s astonishing 43-match winning streak last year already puts him in impressive company in the tennis record books. Becoming the third man ever to win a Grand Slam (and doing it at age 24, with plenty of tennis ahead of him) would make him a serious challenger to the likes of Federer and Sampras at the top of the all-time lists.
Of course, Djokovic has to close the deal in Melbourne to stay on track for those lofty feats. Fortunately for him, even Rafael Nadal won’t be enough to keep him from his third Australian Open title or his place in history.