He's been sidelined by hand and knee injuries in , and his play hasn't always been up to his usual standards. But Nadal looked a lot more like himself in Rome, where he handed opponents a total of four sets, including one against Djokovic in the final. Asked to look ahead to Paris after that three-set loss, Djokovic said: "Nadal, No.
Then everyone else. He's had it all. He keeps on showing to the world why he's one of the biggest legends of tennis history. Djokovic, who turned 32 on Wednesday, missed the last half of with a bad right elbow; he eventually had surgery last year, which he began with a record and losses in the Australian Open's fourth round and French Open's quarterfinals.
He was so bothered by the latter, which stretched his major title drought to two years, that he left Roland Garros in a huff, declaring he might skip Wimbledon. Not only did he play at the All England Club, he won the trophy. Then he did the same at the U. Open and the Australian Open, making him the only man in tennis history with three separate streaks of three consecutive majors.
Now Djokovic has a shot at a non-calendar Grand Slam, something he already accomplished in — and can set his sights on a true Grand Slam, winning all four majors in the same season, which only has been done by two men: Donald Budge in , Rod Laver in and And Djokovic has looked good on clay lately, winning the title in Madrid before losing to Nadal in Rome. So now, really, the question is: How much longer can this terrific trio continue to thrive and hold off talented up-and-coming players such as year-old Dominic Thiem, who lost to Nadal in last year's French Open final, or year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Federer in Australia in January before losing his first Grand Slam semifinal to Nadal?
Roger, Rafa and Novak — they're arguably the three best of all time. Copyright owned or licensed by Toronto Star Newspapers Limited. All rights reserved. To order copies of Toronto Star articles, please go to: www. Subscribe Now. Get more sports in your inbox. Get the Star's Sports Headlines newsletter for a daily round-up of the latest big news. Read more about: Roger Federer , Novak Djokovic. Report an error. Journalistic Standards. Outlook: The defending champion has played fairly well this spring, but she took a tough loss to No.
Halep will feel a lot of pressure as defending champ, but if she survives first-round jitters against Ajla Tomljanovic , she could have clear sailing until the quarterfinals. Money stat: Halep is the defending French Open champion and a three-time finalist but has not won a tournament in in finals. Outlook: The pressure will be on the second seed, but she was impressive in winning the Italian Open and should have enough confidence to get through a first-rounder with Madison Brengle.
She could meet former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova , who is on the comeback trail at 33 years old, in the second round. Money stat: Pliskova won the most recent tournament she played Rome , and her aces in are the most on tour. Outlook: She has come on like gangbusters this year, building on her breakthrough to the top 10 last year and proving she's no fluke. The 6-foot, year-old Bertens has been to the semis at Roland Garros.
Pauline Parmentier should pose no problem in the first round, although she will have the home crowd behind her. Money stat: Bertens has 12 wins on clay this season, tied for most on tour, and has won two titles this year. Outlook: She's stronger than her seeding suggests, even though she has been as far as the fourth round at the French just once since she made the semis in She's a streaky player subject to hitting bad patches, but she should get past Sorana Cirstea in the first round.
Naomi Osaka. Outlook: The top seed gained some very valuable -- and much-needed -- clay-court experience this spring. Her opener against No.
Money stat: Osaka is trying to join Serena Williams as the only women to win three consecutive Grand Slams in the past 20 years, but she has never advanced past the round of 32 in three French Open appearances. Sloane Stephens.
If she gets through her first match with Misaki Doi , she could be looking at a fourth-round meeting with former champion -- and No. Money stat: Stephens has won 20 career matches at the French Open, more than at any other Grand Slam. Outlook: Keys has lost a couple of tough three-setters in Europe, but she won on clay albeit the faster Har-Tru clay popular in the U.
She was a semifinalist at Roland Garros last year, and her first-round opponent, Evgeniya Rodina , hasn't been playing well. Money stat: Keys had 20 aces on clay in a match in Rome, tied for the most by any player in a WTA match this season. Belinda Bencic. Outlook: The resurgent Swiss player has a super record against top opponents this year She has never gone beyond the second round at Roland Garros, but her fitness and confidence have improved.
Money stat: Bencic has five wins vs. Ashleigh Barty. Outlook: Although the diminutive Aussie hasn't punched through to a final since winning in Miami and might not feel totally comfortable on clay, she has tremendous variety and can run all day. Her first match will be against American Jessica Pegula in a quarter of the draw that has a dearth of proven clay experts. Outlook: We all know what Williams is capable of doing, but the bottom line is that she has had to withdraw with injury or illness from her past three tournaments -- as well as last year's French Open.
Jacques Brugnon made two times the quarterfinals in the men's singles, but he was loved by the French crowd, as part of that memorable quartet of champions. Outlook: She's stronger than her seeding suggests, even though she has been as far as the fourth round at the French just once since she made the semis in Twelfth seed Anastasia Sevastova courageously saved five match points in three different games to outlast Elise Mertens in three hours, 18 minutes in the match immediately preceding Federer's. Tennis wear market domestic shipment value in Japan Garin in R1, two young players who have had great starts to Federer did have to work harder in the third set, recovering from and subsequently needing to save a break chance at
Vitalia Diatchenko of Russia is a beatable first-round opponent, but we have no idea about Williams' physical state. To help make this website better, to improve and personalize your experience and for advertising purposes, are you happy to accept cookies and other technologies? Ranking the top 10 men's and women's French Open contenders.
Murray finds balance between life and tennis future. Barty, Australia denied perfect ending to France beats Australia to capture Fed Cup.
Barty humbled by Goolagong comparisons. Vandeweghe, Giron earn wild cards for Aussie. Kazakhstan likely to host India-Pakistan Davis Cup tie. Hewitt stands firm on Davis Cup criticism.
Hewitt welcomes back Kyrgios with open arms. Federer: Big Three's toughest test could be in ' Former world No. Tsitsipas sweeps Federer, will face Thiem for title. Nadal wins, but out of ATP Finals on tiebreaker. Federer beats Djokovic, clinches No.