2022 brought very few joys to Novak Djokovic. The world number 1 was unable to defend his title at the Australian Open, as well as suffering serious damage to his image. After a soap opera that lasted for almost two weeks, the Serbian champion was sent home, where he watched helplessly as his eternal rival Rafael Nadal triumphed.
Winning for the second time in Melbourne Park, the Spaniard overtook Roger Federer and Djokovic himself in the all-time rankings of the Majors. Rafa also became the fourth man in history to have won all Grand Slams at least twice (along with Djokovic, Rod Laver and Roy Emerson).
The Iberian will try to reach 22 slams already at Roland Garros, where Nole will also be present. In fact, France has decided to abolish the vaccination pass, so 'Djoker' will take part in the Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo and the French Open.
The 34-year-old from Belgrade will be called upon to defend the title he won in Paris last year. Speaking to Eurosport, Mats Wilander analyzed the moment that Novak is going through.
Wilander talks about Djokovic
"[Novak Djokovic] is going to be well rested in his mind, in his heart.
Physically, he has been able to set up his training schedule perfectly, at least in the way that he would want to," Wilander said. "Of course, he would have liked to play more matches, but if he gets to three tournaments and maybe [plays] 10 to 15 matches, he goes into Roland Garros as maybe the favorite to win the tournament”.
Taking that into consideration, he reckoned the Serb only needed "a little bit of confidence" going into the French Open to win his record-equalling 21st Grand Slam. “Now that Rafael Nadal is maybe not going to have the perfect preparation, Djokovic suddenly becomes the favorite" Wilander said.
"But he most probably needs a little bit of confidence in some of the tournaments that lead up to the French Open." Currently, the Serb doesn’t have a choice regarding the selection of events. Because of his vaccination stance, he already faced a lot of criticism.
He has to take a look at the tournament rule to get an entry and with mandates getting changed according to the status of the pandemic, there will be uncertainty for Djokovic going forward. Also, he’s lacking match practice, which could cost him at the French Open.
Before Paris, Djokovic will play the Monte-Carlo Masters as it will be a great clay-court practice event for the Serbian.