Having been denied the chance to play in the 2022 Australian Open, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will be back in Grand Slam action at the upcoming 2022 French Open where he will be the defending champion having clinched his second Roland Garros title last year and has the task of defending his 2000 points as well.
The drama in Australia followed by denial of entry into the US for the Sunshine Double, Djokovic played only 1 tournament coming into the Golden Swing of the Tour this year. The impact of not playing was visible during the 2022 Monte-Carlo Masters where he suffered a shocking second-round exit. He has however gone from strength to strength as he made it to the semi-finals of his next 3 events which included his runner-up finish in Belgrade, semi-final run in Madrid and title at the 2022 Rome Masters.
The title in Rome was his record-extending 38th Masters title and his sixth at the tournament. The run in Rome also ensured he remains the top-ranked player in the rankings till the French Open concludes and depending on the result, he might or might not be displaced from the top. As he now prepares for the Roland Garros, 3-time French Open champion and former World No. 1 Mats Wilander discussed the Serbian’s chances at the Grand Slam in Paris.
“I think Novak has to be the favourite. Winning in Rome will be huge for his confidence but Novak also has a feeling of revenge with everything that happened to him over the past few months that will give him strength. He is defending the French Open after not being able to play at the Australian Open so that’s huge as well.
“Now that he’s shown he can play tough matches, huge matches, even though he lost to Alcaraz in Madrid, he has shown he can play for a long time. In Monte Carlo, he looked bad in his match in the end with Davidovich. He looked bad, tired but suddenly now he looks much better. Djokovic is the clear number one in his own group but we know how good he is at dealing with pressure,” said Wilander speaking with Eurosport.
“Novak Djokovic needs to believe he is making the right choices”: Mats Wilander
Mats Wilander however did emphasise the point that due to the sudden break, Novak has lost some momentum and form that he is yet to regain complete and it can be spotted in his shots and decision making. But the Swedish great remains unbothered that it is just a matter of time before Novak overcomes this issue.
“Djokovic knows that he has memories of playing his best and memories of winning those big points. He has memories of trusting his own instincts and decisions and believing he is making the right decisions at the right times. He believes in the past, then the past will help him in the present time and that is where Novak has his strength.
“As soon as he believes he is making the right choices, then that’s when I believe he is back to being the best player in the world.“I think he will be back at that point. I don’t think he is hitting the ball as well as he did in the past, I’m sure the confidence is not the same as it was in the past but I think if he believes in his own choices then he will be unstoppable,” added Wilander, a 7-time Grand Slam winner.