What a year it could be for Novak Djokovic, as the world number one begins focusing his attentions on the missing piece of his career Grand Slam jigsaw having already broken an Open era record by scooping his 5th Australian Open title.
As the clay court season comes into view, the one glaring omission from the Serbian wonder’s extensive trophy cabinet of course is that elusive French Open crown.
However, after near misses in 2012 and again last year, the ground has never looked more fertile for the 27-year-old to add his name to tennis immortality.
It is not just Djokovic’s own exceptional form that counts either, it’s the way his main rival is shaping up which really sells the 6/4 on glory at Roland Garros.
The challenge of nine-time French Open winner and the undisputed King of Clay, Rafael Nadal, has arguably never looked like wavering more after a decade of utter dominance.
Only Robin Soderling in 2009 interrupted Nadal from stringing together a miraculous 10-tournament winning streak and the left-hander has been the man to thwart Djokovic in both his recent final appearances.
Nadal joins Djokovic on odds of 6/4, but even this co-favouritism reveals the chinks in the Spaniard’s armour heading into the clay court season.
Early losses at the Australian Open, Indian Wells and latterly a round-of-32 exit to Fernando Verdasco in Miami have left Nadal outside the top four for the first time in two years.
Worse still, the man plagued by several injuries over the past few seasons has actually begun to question his own mental strength for the first time in his glittering career.
“It’s not the question of tennis,” Nadal said after his third round loss in Miami. “The thing is the question of being enough relaxed to play well on court.
“It’s something that didn’t happen a lot during my career,” he added. “I have been able to be under control, control my emotions during, let’s say, 90%, 95 % of my matches of my career.
It’s something that today is being tougher to be under self‐control. But I’m going to fix it. I don’t know if it will be in one week, in six months, or in one year, but I’m going do it.”
If he doesn’t fix it, Djokovic looks like strolling to the second Slam of the year having won three of the four ATP Tour events he’s entered in 2015, while losing in the final of the other.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.