Following his French Open victory, Djokovic is on course to win the Golden Slam this year, should he win Wimbledon, the US Open and the Olympic gold medal in TokyoCarine06/Flickr

It is truly a rare occurrence for the clay season to end and for Rafael Nadal not to be the main topic of discussion. This year, both the men’s and women’s tours have surprise French open winners. It’s only at the French Open that the men’s world number 1 Novak Djokovic could be described as a surprise winner, such was Nadal’s dominance. In the women’s game, we have another first-time grand slam winner, for the sixth consecutive time at the French open, Barbora Krejčíková.

It’s fair to say that the tournament got off to an unprecedented start, with four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka sadly withdrawing from the tournament due to mental-health reasons after missing press conferences. Many of the women’s top seeds, predicted to go far and challenge for the title were either unable to attend or were nursing injuries. Simona Halep, the 2018 champion, suffered a calf strain and had to withdraw before the tournament was underway. World number 1 Ash Barty, the 2019 champion, retired from her Round 2 match due to a hip injury. The first few rounds were riddled with upsets, a common feature that highlights the competitive and equal nature of the current women’s game . In the last few years, besides Naomi Osaka, few women have managed to separate themselves from the pack, to become serial winners, and Osaka herself has only shown her prowess on hard courts. This competitiveness has made women’s tournaments virtually unpredictable and a real spectacle for viewers.

“The first few rounds were riddled with upsets, a common feature that highlights the competitive and equal nature of the current women’s game”

This year’s winner, the unseeded Barbora Krejčíková, is the latest in a series of female Czech players to win a grand slam. The list includes Hana Mandlikova, Petra Kvitova, the Czech-American legend, Martina Navratilova, and most importantly Jana Novotná, who passed away in 2017. Novotná was an influential figure in the women’s game, who coached Krejčíková herself. The French open champion dedicated her victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to the memory of Jana Novotná. What makes Krejčíková’s fortnight even more impressive is that she came away with two trophies last weekend having also won the women’s doubles championship, with her compatriot Kateřina Siniaková. She is the first woman to win both the singles and doubles French Open titles, since Mary Pierce in 2000.

The men’s side of the tournament was a spectacle, but in a completely different way. We did not see riveting upsets and a draw collapse making way for a brand-new slam winner like in the women’s tournament. We witnessed chapter 58 of the greatest and most competitive rivalry in men’s tennis: Novak Djokovic versus Rafael Nadal. Their encounter in the semi-finals is already being hailed as the likely match of the year and a classic to be recounted throughout the years. The result of this match was a surprise in itself: Djokovic won.

“Nadal’s metronomic acquisition of French Open titles was ruptured in a four-set blockbuster”

Djokovic winning matches should never come as a surprise, however beating Nadal on Court Phillipe Chatrier is possibly the hardest feat in all of modern tennis. Nadal’s metronomic acquisition of French Open titles was ruptured in a four-set blockbuster. After eliminating the possibility of Nadal winning a 14th French Open and 21st Grand Slam, the world Number 1 went on to beat the 20-year-old Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, in a final where he had to come back from two sets down. Djokovic looked lethargic for the first two sets, and Tsitsipas was at his most aggressive. Djokovic coming back to clinch the title simply highlights his mental fortitude and his unmatched prowess when it comes to the five-set match. He also becomes the first player to win a title where he had to come back from two sets down twice in the tournament. The first was against the Italian Lorenzo Musetti in the fourth round.

The records do not stop there. With this win, Djokovic takes his second Roland Garros title, completing a double career grand slam, as he now had at least 2 of each Grand slam, something neither Nadal or Federer have. In addition to that he now holds 19 grand slam titles, one fewer than the other two of the big three and he continues to extend his record number of weeks at number 1, currently at 325.


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Looking ahead to Wimbledon, which starts on 28th June,  Djokovic remains the favourite to win it for the sixth time on the men's side. The women’s game is much more difficult to predict. Fairly experienced players like Barty and Halep will be returning from injury and the younger, rising players like Osaka and Swiatek have little form on grass as there was no grass season in 2020. Viewers should keep an eye out for Serena Williams, no doubt the most experienced grass court player and she is still looking to win her 24th Grand slam title.

In the men’s game, Roger Federer, coming back from two knee surgeries and a withdrawal from the French open fourth round, is also aiming to have a long run at this championship as there is much speculation that this might be the last year of his long and illustrious career, though he does much to play down such rumours. If Djokovic wins, he will be at 20 slams, and all of the “Big Three” will be satisfyingly on the same number. With this year being an Olympic year, Djokovic will be hoping to not just complete the calendar slam, only ever done by Steffi Graf in 1988, but he’ll be planning to achieve the ’Golden Slam’ which includes winning Olympic Gold. Following Nadal’s withdrawal from Wimbledon and the Olympics, 2021 could very much be the year in which Djokovic cements his place as the greatest male tennis player of all time.