With the ATP Tour moving to Europe for the majority of the Golden Swing, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will finally have regular matches as the rules in Europe with respect to Covid-19 vaccination are comparatively relaxed from other parts of the globe that has seen the 20-time Grand Slam champion play only 3 matches so far this year.
Having fallen behind in the race for most majors once again after close rival Rafael Nadal won the 2022 Australian Open and claimed his 21st major taking the lead in the race for the first time, Djokovic now has a great chance at the 2022 French Open to level the scores with the Spaniard.
Novak is the defending champion this year at the Roland Garros, he is expected to play a full season on the surface which means he would get enough practice for the Slam. Nadal on the other hand has picked up another injury and is out till May at least and will be coming in with less preparation, setting the stage perfectly for the battle in Roland Garros for which as per tennis coach Patrick Mouratoglou, Novak will be the favourite.
“First, there is so much on the line. Because who is going to win the Roland Garros is a key. If it’s Rafa, he has two Grand Slams more than Novak and if it’s Novak, they go equal and Novak has a better chance than Rafa on Grass. And this battle between the two for the most number of Grand Slam titles is unbelievable so Roland Garros can be a key this season. The Clay season is going to be unbelievable and if you look at the start of the season and the global situation, Novak has the lead for me.
“He’s winning more Grand Slams than anyone every year so he is a huge favourite to win more Grand Slams than anyone. But because of this Covid story, he was not able to play most of the year. He’s lacking a lot of matches and on the other hand, Rafa gained so much confidence as Novak wasn’t playing, he won almost everything. “You have Novak who would be at an advantage, but with what happened, Rafa has now the edge. But then Rafa gets injured and he won’t be able to play much this season so it kind of comes back to balance.
“So what is so exciting, is Novak going to win everything until Rafa comes back from the injury? That will be a game-changer because then you would have a Novak will full, full confidence back. It’s not easy when you don’t play a lot of matches, last month, in the little he played, he lost early. It’s not easy even for Novak,” said Patrick through his latest Instagram video.
“If Novak Djokovic wins a lot from start, the Roland Garros is not open”: Patrick Mouratoglou
As the defending champion, Novak will definitely like the challenge as a lot is at the stake here for him in the race for most majors. Patrick stressed the point that given current circumstances with Nadal’s great form and Novak’s scarcity of matches, the French Open for this year is quite an open field. However, there remains one catch that can bend the tournament towards Novak.
“I think for Rafa it’s going to be tough. Thankfully, if you think about Roland Garros now, it’s the most open for the last 10-15 years. If Novak is able to win a lot from the start of the clay season and Roland Garros, then it won’t be that open. When Novak is on the top, even on Clay, he is the best player in the world.
“I know it’s weird to say that when you see the number of Roland Garros Rafa has won, but if you look at the figures, Novak beat Rafa many times on the clay. Sometimes with a tough score. If they have to play each other in the last stages of the Roland Garros, the match of last year will count in their mind, 100%. In a sense, Rafa is going to be tensed for sure and Novak will be more aggressive and will be more confident going against Rafa,” concluded Patrick.
The 2022 French Open will begin on 22nd May giving the players almost 6-7 weeks of preparation unless you are Nadal who returns to the court only in May due to the stress fracture in his rib that he picked up in the Indian Wells Masters making the whole battle interesting in Paris this year.