Rafael Nadal remains the roadblock for Novak Djokovic’s French Open success

By @hoopsdontstop30 on
Novak Djokovic said Rafael Nadal is still the benchmark of clay-surfaced tournaments. Reuters/Thomas Peter

Novak Djokovic still considers Rafael Nadal a major threat for completing a calendar Grand Slam, especially when the Spaniard plays on the clay courts of this year's French Open.

Djokovic, who bagged his sixth Australian Open title last month after defeating world No. 2 Andy Murray, is bound for another great season, which offers him another chance at a Grand Slam sweep. The Serb will head to Roland Garros with momentum from his third straight Grand Slam win, but Djokovic remains aware of the challenge of topping the “King of Clay” at the 2016 French Open.

"Absolutely," Djokovic said, when asked about Nadal being the benchmark of clay courts, reports SBS. "You would be disrespectful to everything he has achieved in his career on clay courts if we didn't see him this year - and each year - as the ultimate challenge on clay courts.”

Djokovic has never won a French Open title in his 12-year career as a tennis pro. He has won 11 of his 61 ATP titles at tournaments played on clay surfaces, but none of those victories came at the French Open. Djokovic’s winning percentage on clay-surfaced tournaments is only 79.6 percent, far behind Nadal’s 92 percent and 47 title wins.

Last season, Djokovic had the chance to be the first man in 49 years to conquer all Grand Slam events in a year. But the 28-year-old Serb was stunned by Swiss Stan Wawrinka in the final round of last year’s French Open.

However, it seems Djokovic is finally closing in on a French Open title after two successive finals appearances at Roland Garros. The world No. 1 revealed earlier this week that he plans to put himself in a position where he can win the elusive French Open title in Paris.

''The French Open. It's the one I never won,'' Djokovic said, reports Tennis. “I’ll try to put myself in a position to get that trophy.”