Novak Djokovic will enter the French Open undefeated on clay this year after a 6-4, 6-3 win over Roger Federer in the Italian Open final on Sunday. Djokovic is now the winner of 19 of the last 41 Masters tournaments, and has won his last 22 matches.
Federer played Djokovic well to start Sunday’s match in Rome, as the two alternated wins for the first eight games. Federer then squandered a break-point chance at 4-4 in the first set, and Djokovic would recover to win eight of the next 11 games.
Djokovic, the world’s No. 1 player, will be the undisputed favorite at Roland Garros, especially in light of his success on clay this year. Andy Murray, who withdrew from Rome after a Madrid Masters win, is also undefeated on the surface through 10 matches.
Federer’s performance in Rome was a solid bounce back on clay after his loss in the Round of 32 in Madrid. He will remain the world’s second-ranked player ahead of the French.
Rafael Nadal, winner of nine of the last 10 French Opens, lost his fifth match on clay of the year in the Rome quarters. Nadal was seemingly playing his best tennis of the year before losing to Murray in the Madrid final, but his most recent loss casts more doubt than ever before in his ability to continue his dominance at Roland Garros.
All this to say, we should see a pretty competitive field once the French Open kicks off next week, and a potential changing of the guard could be in order.