Novak Djokovic one step closer to Golden Slam
Serbian's French Open victory gives him a chance to accomplish a rare feat
Novak Djokovic dropped his racquet and laid out on Court Philippe Chatrier in relief after finally capturing his first French Open title on Sunday. After his fourth appearance in five years in the final at Roland Garros, the Serbian star has now won all four majors to complete the career Grand Slam.
It was a moment the world No.1 called "the biggest" of his career. And with that one feat out of the way, the 29-year-old, 12-time major champion already has his eyes set on a new goal.
The Golden Slam
Djokovic has the opportunity to achieve the calendar year Golden Slam — winning all four majors as well as the Olympic gold between January and December. He won the Australian Open in January. The calendar year Golden Slam been done only once before, by Germany's Steffi Graf in 1988, the first year tennis was included in the Olympics.
"I don't want to sound arrogant, but I really think everything is achievable in life," Djokovic said following his win in Paris. "Whether or not I can reach a calendar slam, that's still a possibility.
The closest anyone has come to matching Graf was 2013 when Bob and Mike Bryan achieved the non-calendar year Golden Slam. The American duo won gold in the men's doubles event at the 2012 London Olympics in August followed by four consecutive Grand Slam championships, finishing with Wimbledon the following July.
The career Golden Slam is almost as rare. Only 19 players have achieved the feat, and only four of those as singles players — Graf, Serena Williams, Andre Agassi and Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic is well-positioned to join them.
Over the past year, there's no better player on the ATP World Tour than Djokovic. He finished last season with an 82-6 record, including 11 titles. This season, Djokovic is 44-3, including the Australian and French Opens in which he lost a total of just five sets combined.
Diminished health of his rivals
There are a lot of questions surrounding two of the game's greats heading into the second half of the tennis season. After avoiding injury for most of his career, former world No. 1 Roger Federer suffered a torn meniscus in January and then missed the French Open because of a back injury.
Rafael Nadal, meanwhile, is again struggling with injuries, as he has much of his career. A left wrist injury forced the nine-time French Open champ to withdraw from this year's tournament in the third round, and the Spaniard's participation at Wimbledon later this month could be in jeopardy.
NADAL UPDATE: Person very close to Rafa indicates Wimbledon highly unlikely. His goal - PLAY THE OLYMPICS.—@BillSimons1
Record against top competition
There are no active players who sport a winning record against Djokovic. Last season, he set an Open era record with 31 wins against top 10 competition and is on pace to surpass that with 16 wins thus far.
Djokovic holds a 73-55 record against the rest of the Big Four - Federer, Nadal, and Scotland's Andy Murray - and is 74-9 against all other players in the top 10.
As if Djokovic didn't have enough advantages, he even has the court surface in his favour. Tennis will be played on a DecoTurf surface at the Rio Olympics. This is the same type of hardcourt used at the U.S. Open, the Western & Southern Open, and the Rogers Cup, all tournaments in which Djokovic has had great success.
He has made the final in five of the past six U.S. Opens, including two championships, has won the Rogers Cup three times, and is five-time finalist at the Western & Southern Open.