It was the match tennis fans everywhere were hoping for heading into the 2015 French Open and thankfully both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal managed to hold up their ends of the bargain leading up to Wednesday’s highly anticipated showdown.
While portions of the opening couple of sets had all of us glued to our seats in hopes we were about to be treated to yet another classic battle between two of the finest players this game has every produced, in the end that was not how this one played out. Despite giving it all that he had and actually succeeding at planting a seed of doubt in his opponents mind, albeit for the briefest of moments, Nadal was never really in the match.
As far as quarter-finals go, you would be hard-pressed to find a more intriguing head-to-head showdown to have ever taken place in any of the four majors. That being said, the fact Djokovic was able to not only beat his long-time friend and rival in straight sets but do so in such a staggering fashion...simply cannot be ignored. In all honesty, one could make the argument it was a historic showing.
As if schooling the nine-time champion to the degree he did wasn’t jaw-dropping enough, doing so in what was and shall always be considered “Rafa’s Court” has to make it all the more special for talented Serbian. With what was the biggest remaining hurdle of his brilliant career now in the rear-view mirror, Djokovic has left himself two wins shy of not only completing the career Grand Slam but also making a legitimate run at accomplishing arguably the most impressive feat in the history of the men’s game.
Should the World No. 1 find a way to get past Andy Murray on Friday afternoon and whoever survives the Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - Stan Wawrinka showdown in Sunday’s Finale, he will be half way to the “Calendar Year Slam”…something no man has accomplished in nearly half a century. The legendary Rod Laver was the last one to do it back in 1969, after having achieved the feat back in 1962 to join Don Budge (1938) in a very select group. That is correct, with all the great players who have played this game, only two have been able to complete the task Djokovic looks to have a real shot of pulling of. Getty Images
Considering the twenty-eight year old currently finds himself on twenty-seven match win streak and already has five titles under his belt this season, the Australian Open and four ATP Tour 1000 Events, it appears as though the eight-time Grand Slam winner could be in for something awfully special in 2015. Let’s not forget it was just four short years ago that Djokovic took the tennis world by storm with his breath-taking performance throughout the 2011 ATP Tour campaign and an eye-popping record of 70-6 with ten titles…including Australia, Wimbledon and the US Open.
Should he manage to close the deal this weekend and take home the first Roland Garros crown of his career, can anyone honestly seem him not completing the aforementioned “Calendar Year Slam”? Djokovic did win the two remaining majors during his ridiculous run in 2011 and has actually reached the final three of the last four years at the All England Club and four of the last five at Flushing Meadows in New York City. Take care of business in France and suddenly it becomes a very real possibility.
It is no secret that the 53-time tour winner has shown more than a little frustration with many tennis fans seemingly “lack of” acknowledgement for what he has been able to achieve since turning pro back in 2003 but unfortunately for him, he has done it all during the Roger Federer and Nadal Era. While the duo have not only been two of the greatest players the game has ever seen, they are unquestionably the two most popular and well-known names in its history. With that said, neither one has been able to do what their rival could be on the verge of accomplishing.
Achieve that Mr. Djokovic and something tells me the fanfare you have rightly been awaiting will finally start to come your way. Regardless of how things ultimately play out through the remainder of 2015 season, if he continues to dominate the ATP Tour over the coming years at anywhere near the clip he has shown during the last five, do not be surprised to see Djokovic’s name end up above all the rest when it comes to the greatest champions of all-time.