Mats Wilander predicts when Novak Djokovic can surpass Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

Will Djokovic win the French Open? (Picture: Getty)

Mats Wilander is backing Novak Djokovic to win the French Open and believes he can surpass Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the all-time Grand Slam charts by the end of next season.

Djokovic, the world No. 1 from Serbia, has only suffered one defeat this season – a freak disqualification when hitting a line judge with a ball at the US Open – and enters Roland Garros in confident mood having won a record 36th Masters 1000 title in Rome.

Nadal is typically the heavy favourite in these parts. The ‘King of Clay’ has won 12 French Open titles and has only suffered two defeats – one of which came to Djokovic – in his career on the clay courts of Paris.

The world No. 2 from Spain will equal Federer’s record 20-major haul if he secures a 13th French Open crown but Wilander suspects it will be Djokovic who gets his hand on a second title at Roland Garros.

If Djokovic does get over the line, he will become the first man in the Open Era to win each Grand Slam event on two or more occasions but he has his eyes set on far greater prizes than that.

The 17-time major winner is currently two Slams behind Nadal and three behind Federer, and Wilander thinks he can eclipse both by the end of the 2021 season.

‘I think Novak will win the French Open and I think with the temperatures that are going to be in Paris now and over the next two weeks, they are going to be colder than normal which is not great for somebody who spins the ball like Rafa Nadal,’ Wilander told Eurosport.

Federer and Nadal lead the all-time Grand Slam charts (Picture: Gett)

‘Novak doesn’t really care if it’s cold or warm, he likes both conditions. I think he is the favourite, just ahead of Nadal and Dominic Thiem.

‘I think Novak has this thing where… okay, he screwed up in New York, okay, fine, here I go, I’m going to win the French, I’m going to have 18.

‘I win Australia every year, I’m at 19, now I’ve got to win, maybe the French again, maybe Wimbledon, yes, US Open?

‘He is going to be looking going past both guys at the end of next year, I’m convinced that’s what he’s thinking and I really am starting to think that that might be the case.’

Few are looking beyond Djokovic, Nadal and Thiem – a two-time French Open finalist and newly-crowned US Open champion – for the title, but Wilander picked out some names from the rest of the field who could go deep.

‘I think that there is [Denis] Shapovalov and [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, [Alexander] Zverev, [Matteo] Berrettini, these guys are monsters on clay these days because they are so powerful and they hit the ball so hard,’ added Wilander.

‘They are not intimidated by Rafa Nadal or anyone, so I think there are going to be upsets.

‘It’s kind of a slow, heavy clay court so you are going to have to hit the ball flat and hard and I think a lot of guys know how to do that so I think it’s going to be a great tournament in terms of the tennis.’

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