Boris Becker feels the weather in Paris could have a big bearing on whether Novak Djokovic can win a 23rd Grand Slam at the French Open.
Nadal’s absence prompted eyes to be drawn to Djokovic, who would break out of a tie with the Spaniard on 22 majors should he triumph in Paris in June.
Becker coached Djokovic earlier in his career, and is well versed on his strengths and weaknesses.
Age is a concern for Becker, who feels Djokovic struggles physically against younger legs on clay – but that a hot fortnight in Paris could tip the balance in the 36-year-old Serb’s favour.
“If you look at the whole Grand Slam history, he won Paris twice. This is the absolute crowning glory for every mere mortal. However, he has won Melbourne ten times and Wimbledon seven times. In this respect, Paris is not his strongest tournament in terms of the Grand Slam quota.”
“I also have to say that I also saw the quarter-finals against Rune in Rome, where the young Dane was just physically stronger at some point,” Becker said. “This has to do with the fact that at the age of 36, logically explained as a human being, you can no longer always reach the physical limit as a 21-year-old or a 25-year-old can.”
While Carlos Alcaraz is the bookmakers’ favourite, Becker feels Djokovic’s experience in Grand Slams will be of benefit.
Becker said: “He is by far the most experienced player in Paris’ main draw. So, he knows how Grand Slam tennis works, he knows how to win Grand Slam tournaments. If so, that also plays a big role.”
While Djokovic can lean on his experience, Becker feels he will be casting a glance at the sky hoping for Paris to bask in hot sunshine.
“I think the weather will also play a big role,” Becker said. “When it’s hot, the red ash in Paris is almost like a hard court.
“When it’s rainy, cold and wet like in Rome, it becomes a difficult, slow court and then Novak has a harder time than other players.
“I think the question is: how does he get into the tournament? How is the draw? When does he meet these young, strong players? Is that in the last 16 already, is it at the quarter-finals? A lot depends on the draw, but really also on the weather. On a sunny Parisian spring, he’s still one of the top favourites.”
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