World No. 2 Novak Djokovic will begin his Career Slam campaign on Monday afternoon against No. 42 Joao Sousa of Portugal. This marks the second time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, with Djokovic leading the head-to-head series 1-0.
Second seed Novak Djokovic could hardly ask for a stronger start to his clay court season, with his only blunder being a wrist injury that cost him the Monte Carlo title and a chance to play in Madrid. He would rebound with a magnificent display of tennis in Rome, as he defeated Radek Stepanek, Philipp Kohlschreiber, David Ferrer, Milos Raonic and Rafael Nadal to lift the crown.
With his last win on the tour before the French Open being a three-set battle with Nadal, Djokovic will be looking to use that added confidence to fuel his journey to a career slam. The two competitors met in the semi-final round of the event last season, and it was a contest that could have arguably gone to Djokovic had he not touched the net on a crucial point in the fifth and final set.
“I m healthy and very motivated to give the maximum in Paris,“ Novak said. “I played some epic matches against Rafa, especially the one last year in the semi-finals. We went the distance. I think it was 9-7 in the fifth. So even though it was a tough loss for me and I was putting a lot of emotional effort into winning it last year, I still take the positives from that tournament. Knowing that I have got closer and closer each year to the title gives me enough reason to be confident for the start of this year. The Rome title and winning against Nadal on clay is something that doesn’t happen every day. Wawrinka also deserves to be considered as one of the favorites to win the title because he’s had great results this year.“
Apart from his first round match-up, Djokovic faces an interesting draw, including potential clashes with Marin Cilic (3R), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (4R), Nishikori/Raonic (QF) and Roger Federer (SF).
- This is Djokovic’s 10th appearance in Paris. His overall record at the event is 36-9.
- The French Open is the only major that Djokovic has not won.
World No. 44 Joao Sousa is 9-17 so far this season and is coming off an early exit in Dusseldorf to Jurgen Melzer. He is defending second round points at the French Open this season, as he defeated Go Soeda before losing to Feliciano Lopez.
This first time these two competitors crossed paths on the professional circuit was at Flushing Meadows last year, which Djokovic won 6-0, 6-2, 6-2. It is hard to imagine a vastly more competitive affair this time around but Sousa could certainly win a few more games than four in this encounter.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic in Straight Sets