After all, he did win the clay title last year at Estoril. He also reached the quarters at both Rome and Hamburg where Nadal and Moya took care of him – Moya barely. And he reached the semis at Roland Garros.
That’s not bad considering how many times he has attempted:
Hamburg: Twice – quarters (Moya), second rd (Verdasco).
Rome: Once – quarters (Nadal).
Roland Garros: Thrice – semi (Nadal), quarters (Nadal), second rd (Coria).
It appears Nadal has been his main hurdle. If Djokovic is really electing to skip Estoril to prep up for Roland Garros, he might be REALLY serious and may have the belief and conviction in place, to come pretty close if not win the whole thing.
With Federer faring the way he did on hard courts and with the AO already in the bag, Djokovic is looking to go for the calendar Grand Slam if not the Golden. He has already solved the Nadal puzzle by winning two of their last three meetings in straight sets on hard courts. Although he has never defeated Nadal on clay, he may not be too far from it since the usual Nadal tactic of shoulder high ball on the backhand is not as effective against Djokovic as it is against Federer, because of the two-handed missile guided backhand Djokovic has.
Besides, any chance Djokovic has of overcoming Nadal for the move upwards to the No. 2 spot will have to take hold at this clay season, considering how huge a load Nadal has to defend those points from last year.
Unable to make any dent in the points race for the No. 1 spot so far, Nadal is back to square one – whether to defend the No. 2 rank or to continue the assault on the top rank. With the lead ballooning from 350 points to 670 between him and Federer, and with no chance of gaining any points on clay unless Federer loses early, it’s Djokovic’s advance on the red surface that bothers him most.
If Djokovic lands on Federer’s half of the draw, Federer will have double trouble overcoming Djokovic and Nadal back to back to win the title. Djokovic is the loose gravel that can prove to be the spoiler, irrespective of whose half he lands in. Federer of course will be hoping that Djokovic and Nadal get into an extended battle in the semis to then take down a tired opponent in the final to win the illusive title.
But the way things stand today, Djokovic has a very real shot at the title. If Nadal is not 100 percent throughout the clay season, his No. 2 spot will evaporate for good. And if Djokovic wins Roland Garros, it will be a huge knock on Federer and the apple cart would be disturbed forever.