‘Novak Djokovic is the second-best clay-court player in the world’, says expert


By winning his tenth Australian Open, Novak Djokovic hooked Rafael Nadal at the top of the all-time Grand Slam rankings. In addition to winning his 22nd Major, Nole also returned to the top of the ATP rankings by ousting Carlos Alcaraz from the throne after a 20-week reign. The eternal struggle between the two will be repeated at Roland Garros, scheduled on the red clay in Paris at the end of May. Novak and Rafa are going through very different moments: the 35-year-old from Belgrade is on the crest of a wave and seems fresher than ever, while the Spaniard has suffered yet another injury. The 36-year-old from Manacor was in fact eliminated in the second round of the Australian Open and suffered a second-degree injury to his ileo-psoas. The Majorcan will have to stay in the pits for about two months and could return directly to the red clay of Montecarlo. In the latest edition of the podcast ‘Court-Side with Beilinson Tennis’, well-known journalist Steve Flink said that it will not be easy for Nadal to win his 15th Roland Garros.

Steve Flink on Nole Djokovic

“I think Novak Djokovic would have a very good shot. Obviously going in, Rafa has to be favorite on that court. But, Novak knows what he can do,” he said. “Maybe, they can end up on opposite halves with some good fortune because wouldn’t it be outstanding to see them clash in the final again in the Roland Garros with both playing well,” Flink said. “I mean they’ve had some wonderful matches at the Roland Garros over the years. My hope is we get to see them in the finals this year,” he added. “He is the second-best clay-court player in the world. I believe that firmly and it is not inconceivable,” Flink said. “Yes he’s lost some heart-breakers to Rafa. But, he’s also beaten him a couple of times on that court which is remarkable, including, two years ago, when in the semis before he came back against [Stefanos] Tsitsipas in the final. Novak came from a set down to beat Rafa in that epic semifinal that they had,” he added. Novak Djokovic will seek more information on his heavily scrutinised hamstring injury in the coming days but still plans to return to the court in Dubai at the end of February. “As it stands today, I am still signed in for the [ATP 500] Dubai tournament, which is in a month’s time [from February 27], and I hope I’ll be able to come back to the courts in several weeks’ time.”

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