Novak Djokovic Needs to Regain Consistency to Win 2013 French Open

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 24, 2013

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 07:  Novak Djokovic of Serbia looks on in his match against Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria in three sets during day four of the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament at the Caja Magica on May 7, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Don't be fooled by the rankings. Despite being the No. 1 player in the world, Novak Djokovic shouldn't be considered the favorite for the 2013 French Open.

Djokovic lost to Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals of the Rome Masters and fell to the unranked Grigor Dimitrov in the second round of the Madrid Open. Of course, prior to those defeats, the Djoker won the Australian Open and knocked off Rafael Nadal at the Monte Carlo Masters.

On the whole, it's been a pretty nice 2013 for him.

Unfortunately for Djokovic, his bad run of momentum couldn't come at a worse time.

Roland Garros is the only Grand Slam beast the Djoker has yet to slay. His best showing was last year when he lost to Rafael Nadal in the final. Djokovic has also made the semifinals on three occasions (2007, 2008 and 2011).

When you couple that history at the tournament with his rather underwhelming buildup to the French Open, you've got a vulnerable top seed, at least as vulnerable as he can be.

When he's at his best, the Djoker is the best player in the world. He'll need to be at that level if he has any hope of winning his first French Open, especially considering whom he could meet in the semifinal, according to Sky Sports Tennis:

Sky Sports Tennis 🎾 @SkySportsTennis

Novak Djokovic and seven-time champion Rafael Nadal have been drawn to meet in the semi-finals of the French Open http://t.co/E4XeAkmXOv

Whether it's on grass, clay or hard court, Djokovic remains a strong player. It's one of the biggest reasons he's the top player in the world. Unlike Nadal, Andy Murray or Roger Federer, there isn't one surface that has been an Achilles' heel.

The problem for Djokovic is that Nadal is playing so well right now that the top seed has to be at the peak of his game in order to knock the Spaniard off. You can possibly write off the past two tournaments as nothing more than anomalies.

But at the end of the day, Nadal's track record at Roland Garros is too great to overlook. Plus, Nadal has been very good since making his return to the court.

There is that loss to Djokovic in Monte Carlo, but it's been a pretty successful 2013 for Nadal so far. He's got six singles titles en route to a 36-2 record. Not to mention, he's won seven of the last eight French Open titles.

It's not so much that Djokovic is playing so poorly that he's not even a favorite to win the French Open. He's pretty much right behind Nadal, or you could even argue, he's got the edge on Nadal.

Of course, there's the chance that Nadal is upset before the semifinals, but the chances of that happening are pretty slim.

With the first couple of rounds, Djokovic needs to demonstrate that the Rome Masters and Madrid Open were just nothing more than a bit of bad luck and playing guys in Berdych and Dimitrov who couldn't do anything wrong.

Should the top seed make quick work of his opponents, there's every reason to think he's got what it takes to get his first title at Roland Garros.


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