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Can this be the year Novak Djokovic finally secures ‘Djoker Slam’ with French Open title?

He will certainly be the prohibitive favourite in Paris, more so since his top peers are not really in great shape or form. Djokovic, on the other hand, has already won four titles in 2016, writes Ahmed Rizvi.
Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates a point against Kei Nishikori of Japan in the mens final during the Miami Open Presented by Itau at Crandon Park Tennis Center on April 3, 2016 in Key Biscayne, Florida. Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates a point against Kei Nishikori of Japan in the mens final during the Miami Open Presented by Itau at Crandon Park Tennis Center on April 3, 2016 in Key Biscayne, Florida. Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

It is that time of the year again. Novak Djokovic has just completed the Indian Wells and Miami double, but that is so passé.

Instead, we are looking to the months ahead, towards the European clay court season, which culminates with the French Open, the one jewel missing from the Serb’s impressive collection.

The question, as in the past years, is: Can Djokovic finally lay his hands around the Coupe des Mousquetaires?

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He had a great chance last year, after defeating the King of Clay and nine-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals. The Spaniard had beaten him in two finals and three semis in previous years, so with him out of the way, Djokovic should have got the job done, but instead he was stunned by Stan Wawrinka in the final.

“Each year that I’ve been going back I feel like I’m a step closer,” Djokovic said after his sixth Australian Open triumph at the start of the year.

“I played three finals. I am very hungry to win there.”

Can Djokovic get the elusive French Open title this year, then, and complete the “Djoker Slam”?

He will certainly be the prohibitive favourite in Paris, more so since his top peers are not really in great shape or form. Nadal has not been at his best over the past 12 months, while Roger Federer will be coming into the clay court season without a match since his Australian Open semi-final loss.

Djokovic, on the other hand, has already won four titles in 2016 and has lost just once – in Dubai, when he was forced to retire from his quarter-final clash because of an eye infection.

“For the first time in as long as I can remember, the same player is the favourite at all four majors,” Jim Courier said in February. He is the last man to win the first two grand slams of the season back in 1992.

So, barring any similar health issues, the Serb should be able to finally complete the “Djoker Slam” in 2016. He will be desperately hoping for it because winning the French Open and completing a career grand slam will certainly cement his place among the game’s all-time greats.

arizvi@thenational.ae

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Updated: April 4, 2016 04:00 AM

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