Scouting Report: Djokovic Playing For History In Paris
2016 ROLAND GARROS – This is the 49th tournament in the Open Era (since 1968) and 83rd at Roland Garros since 1925 (tournament was not held from 1940-45 during World War). In 1925, the draw was opened to players outside of France. The French Championships started in 1891 and this is the 115th overall staging of the tournament. There are two former champions in the field – reigning champ Stan Wawrinka and nine-time winner Rafael Nadal (2005-08, ’10-14). There are a Grand Slam tournament record 51 players 30 & over in the main draw.
DJOKOVIC TOP SEED – This is Novak Djokovic's 16th Grand Slam tournament as the No. 1 seed. It's also the fourth time in five years at Roland Garros and the eighth consecutive Grand Slam in which Djokovic has been the top seed. Eight of his 11 Grand Slam titles have come as the top seed: ’11 & ‘15 US Open, ’12-13, ’15-16 Australian Open and ’14-15 Wimbledon. This will be the 21st consecutive Grand Slam tournament in which he is a Top 2 seed.
FRENCH TITLE HOPES – It’s been 33 years since the last Frenchman, Yannick Noah, held up the champion’s trophy in 1983 (d. Wilander). He is the only French Grand Slam singles champion in the Open Era. Prior to that, Marcel Bernard won the title in 1946. The last French finalist at Roland Garros was Henri Leconte in 1988. The best results among active Frenchmen are by Gael Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga with semi-final results in 2008 and 2013, ‘15, respectively. The last Frenchman to reach a Grand Slam singles final was Tsonga at the 2008 Australian Open (l. to Djokovic).
BIG 4 DOMINATE – Since Roland Garros in 2005 when Nadal won his first Grand Slam title, the Big 4 of Djokovic, Federer, Nadal and Andy Murray have combined to win 40 of the past 44 Grand Slam titles with the only exceptions the 2009 US Open (Juan Martin del Potro), 2014 Australian Open (Stan Wawrinka), 2014 US Open (Marin Cilic) and 2015 Roland Garros (Wawrinka). During the current stretch, Nadal has won 14 titles, Federer 13 titles, Djokovic 11 and Murray 2. The foursome have also won 52 of the past 56 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles going back to 2010 Monte-Carlo. During that stretch, Djokovic has won 23 titles, Nadal 13, Federer 8 and Murray 8.
THE REIGNING CHAMPION – Last year Wawrinka came in as the No. 8 seed (No. 9 ranked) and captured his second Grand Slam title, defeating the top two players en route: No. 2 Federer in the quarter-finals and No. 1 Djokovic in the final. At 30 years old, Wawrinka became the first 30 & over champion at Roland Garros since Andres Gomez in 1990. Entering this week Wawrinka, who is playing in Geneva, had a 3-3 record on clay with his best result the quarter-finals at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte-Carlo last month (l. to Nadal). Last year Wawrinka came into Paris with a 6-4 record on clay. The last player other than Nadal to win back-to-back titles at Roland Garros was Gustavo Kuerten in 2000-01.
RAFA EYES 10th TITLE – Nadal attempts to win his 10th Roland Garros title in 12 years as he comes in with a 70-2 career record. Nadal’s only losses have come to Robin Soderling in the fourth round on May 31, 2009 and to Djokovic in the quarter-finals on June 3, 2015 (on Nadal's birthday). In 2014, the Spaniard became the first player to win five consecutive titles at Roland Garros. He also won four in a row from 2005-08. Bjorn Borg is the only other player to win four consecutive titles. He did it from 1978-81. Nadal comes into Roland Garros with a 19-4 clay-court record on the season, having won back-to-back titles at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte-Carlo (d. Monfils) and Barcelona (d. Nishikori). In his last two tournaments, he lost in the semi-finals at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Madrid (l. to Murray) and the quarter-finals at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Rome (l. to Djokovic). He is seeded in the Top 4 for the 11th time in 12 years (No. 6 last year).
TOUGH TO BEAT IN FIVE – Nadal has a sparkling 93-2 career record in best-of-five set matches on clay. His only losses were to Soderling in the fourth round in four sets in 2009 and last year to Djokovic in the quarter-finals. He’s been extended to five sets on clay only four times in his career, defeating Guillermo Coria in the 2005 Rome final and Federer in the 2006 Rome final (both 7-6 in the fifth) along with John Isner at Roland Garros in the first round in 2011 and Djokovic in the semi-finals in 2013.
CLAY-COURT DOMINATOR – Nadal has the best career match record on clay in the Open Era with a 363-34 mark (.914) and he’s 49-9 in clay finals. In 10 of the past 12 years he's won at least two European clay-court titles coming into Roland Garros.
CAREER GRAND SLAM CLUB – World No. 1 Djokovic is looking to add his name in the history books by completing a career Grand Slam and become the first man to hold all four Grand Slam titles since Rod Laver in 1969. In the past nine years, Djokovic has reached the semi-finals or better seven times with a runner-up showing in three of the past four years: 2012, ’14-15. Six of his 11 losses at Roland Garros have come to Nadal, including from 2012-14. Djokovic is trying to become the eighth player to complete a career Grand Slam and join Nadal and Federer, who are active members of the Career Grand Slam Club. Other players to accomplish the feat are: Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, and Andre Agassi. Six other players have won three of the four Slam tournament titles except Roland Garros: Arthur Ashe, coach Boris Becker, Jimmy Connors, Stefan Edberg, John Newcombe, and Pete Sampras.
MOST ATTEMPTS TO TITLE – Djokovic is making his 12th appearance at Roland Garros. The most attempts before winning the Roland Garros title in the Open Era is 11, most recently by Wawrinka last year and Federer in 2009. The most attempts to win any Grand Slam title in the Open Era is 14 by Goran Ivanisevic, who won Wimbledon in 2001.
DJOKOVIC ON A ROLL – Djokovic enters Roland Garros with an ATP World Tour-best 37-3 match record (14-1 vs. Top 10) and five titles this season. Last year he came into Paris with a 22-match winning streak (35-2 record). In the opening month of the season, he won the Doha title and then captured his 11th career Grand Slam crown with a record-tying sixth title at the Australian Open. He also won ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles in Indian Wells, Miami and Madrid. He will become the fifth player in the history of the Emirates ATP Rankings to hold No. 1 at least 200 weeks in his career and 100 consecutive weeks during Roland Garros (see below).
WEEKS AT NO. 1: Djokovic will reach 200 weeks at No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on May 23 and he will get to 100 consecutive weeks at No. 1 on May 30.
MURRAY IN FINE FORM – Murray is the No. 2 seed at Roland Garros for the first time in his career. The 29-year-old British star is coming off his 12th career ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title in Rome where he defeated No. 1 Djokovic for the first time on clay (1-4). He also was runner-up at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Madrid (l. to Djokovic). Murray has compiled an outstanding 29-3 match record (.906) on clay and reached four finals (3-1) in 2015-16 after putting together a 63-37 match record (.630) without a final on the surface from 2005-14. Murray is a three-time semi-finalist at Roland Garros (2011, ’14-15).
FEDERER SLAM STREAK ENDS – Federer’s record of 65 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments played ended with his withdrawal. Federer’s streak began at the 2000 Australian Open and he is the only player to compete in every Grand Slam singles draw in this century. There are six other active players in the Top 10 longest consecutive Grand Slam tournaments played, including Feliciano Lopez (57), Fernando Verdasco (52) and Tomas Berdych (51).
KYRGIOS ON THE RISE -- The youngest player in the Top 20 Emirates ATP Rankings at No. 19 is Nick Kyrgios, who is the No. 17 seed at Roland Garros. The 21-year-old Aussie has played well in Grand Slam tournaments since Wimbledon in 2014 when he advanced to the quarter-finals. Since that tournament, Kyrgios has compiled a 16-7 match record in the last seven Grand Slam tournaments, reaching the third round or better six times. He also reached the quarter-finals at the 2015 Australian Open. At Roland Garros last year he reached the third round (l. to Murray). This season, Kyrgios has put together a 21-7 match record (7-3 on clay), posting a career-best five wins over Top 10 opponents.
COUNTRY COUNT – There are 42 countries represented in the main draw with the host country France leading the way with 16 players followed by Spain with 15, USA 10, Argentina 9 and Germany 7. There were 16 qualifiers, three coming from Germany and two from Argentina and Spain. Qualifier Radek Stepanek, at 37 years, 5 months, is the oldest player in the draw. The youngest player is last year’s Roland Garros junior finalist Taylor Fritz at 18 years, 6 months.
ON THE SIDELINES – There were seven withdrawals from the original direct acceptance list: Pablo Andujar, Juan Martin del Potro, Roger Federer, Andreas Haider-Maurer, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Gael Monfils and Tommy Robredo.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Here is a look at the players approaching career milestones:
- Baghdatis: One win away from 300 in career
- Djokovic: $326,596 away from reaching $100 million in career (must reach QF)
- Isner: Two wins away from 300 in career
- Nadal: Two wins away from 200 in Grand Slam play in career; six wins away from 800 in career
- Seppi: One win away from 300 in career
Marin Cilic 10 (+1 spot)
Andreas Seppi 38 (+3 spots)
Alexander Zverev 41 (+7 spots) - career high
Guido Pella 48 (+6 spots)
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 51 (+4 spots)
Gastao Elias 88 (+10 spots) - career high
22 May – Novak Djokovic (29)
24 May – Fabio Fognini (29)
27 May – Joao Sousa (28)
3 June – Rafael Nadal (30)
4 June – Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (33)