Novak Djokovic confident of repeating the 2018 heroics at Roland Garros (Image Credit: Twitter)
Novak Djokovic believes that his 2016 achievement of holding all four Grand Slam titles at the same time is the perfect playbook for a repeat performance at Roland Garros as he tries to become just the second man to complete the feat. The world number one heads into the French Open with Wimbledon, the US Open and Australian Open titles already under his belt.
Victory in the June 9 final in Paris would allow him to join Rod Laver as the only other man to hold all the four majors at the same time twice.
"There is an extra motivation and incentive to win Roland Garros because of the opportunity to hold all four Slams, something I did three years ago," said the 32-year-old on Friday.
"That gives me obviously enough reason to believe I can do it again." Old rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal may have more career majors -- 20 and 17 respectively to Djokovic's 15 -- but neither of them have managed even one private sweep, let alone two.
However, Djokovic's potential date with destiny would have appeared to be fantasy 12 months ago. In Paris in 2018, Djokovic, still recovering from elbow surgery, crashed to a shock quarter-final loss to world number 72 Marco Cecchinato from Italy. The defeat saw him slip out of the top 20 for the first time in over a decade and briefly had him contemplating skipping Wimbledon.
That threat was soon retracted and he went on to win the next three majors, a performance which has put him on the brink of history.
Victory in two weeks' time would also move him halfway to emulating Laver's feat of calendar Grand Slams in 1962 and 1969.
"I hold three Slams, am world number one. Obviously it's quite a different feeling approaching the tournament, with more confidence, and hopefully I can have a good two weeks," he said.
Despite his optimism, however, Djokovic prefers to pile the pressure of expectation onto the shoulders of 11-time Roland Garros champion Nadal.
Nadal defeated the Serb in the Italian Open final last weekend, a performance which led Djokovic to anoint the Spaniard as the man to beat in Paris.
"He's the main favourite to win the title," said Djokovic who remains just one of two men to have beaten the Spaniard on the Roland Garros clay in 14 years.
"It wouldn't be fair to pick anybody else but him as the main favourite, because he has won this tournament so many times.
"He has lost two times in his career on Parisian clay. So lots of respect for him, obviously, as always." Djokovic starts his bid for a second Roland Garros title and 16th major against Poland's Hubert Hurkacz, the world number 43.