The French Open is almost halfway over. By this time next week, the eyes of the sports world may be on Roland Garros, especially if tennis history is on the line. If Novak Djokovic makes the final, he will have had the biggest season-opening winning streak and will have almost tied the greatest overall winning streak since 1968.
On Saturday afternoon, Djokovic got one step closer to those goals, although it took a day later than expected. His third-round match with Juan Martin del Potro concluded after being suspended by darkness on Friday, and Djokovic took advantage of the extra rest.
After Friday, the two were even at one set each, yet Djokovic cruised when play resumed, for a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory. With the win, the world’s No. 2 is not only in the round of 16, he has won 40 straight matches to start the season and 42 straight overall.
Three more wins will break John McEnroe’s record setting 42-0 start in 1984 and four more will tie Guillermo Vilas’ 46-0 streak from 1977. Four more wins will also give him the French Open title and leave him halfway to a Grand Slam.
Those achievements are still a week down the road, so Djokovic has to avoid looking ahead by too much. Now that he is almost halfway through the tournament, the competition will get tougher, starting with hometown favorite and 13th seed Richard Gasquet in the fourth round. In addition, he has to avoid looking ahead to the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Federer has been almost a forgotten man for once, although he hasn’t lost a set so far, after another straight set win over Janko Tipsarevic on Friday. Meanwhile, Nadal’s five-set scare against John Isner in the first round might have woken him up, as the top seed got an easy 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 victory over Antonio Veic on Saturday.
So far, all three men’s top seeds are through the first week, as expected, even though the two top women’s seeds have already lost. But the tennis world needs the male favorites to survive longer, since Djokovic, Nadal and Federer could put together an unforgettable finish by this time next week.
However, each player needs to win two more times before a Djokovic-Federer semifinal, or a Djokovic-Nadal or Federer-Nadal final, can even take place. Yet the rest of the French Open field has less time left on its hands to break up those dream pairings.
Yahoo Eurosport- “Djokovic downs Del Potro to move 40-0 in 2011”
Gulf News- “Federer enjoying life out of spotlight at French Open”
Toronto Sun- “Nadal reaches fourth round at French Open”