Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Roberto Bautista Agut during their ATP Qatar Open tennis semi-final match in Doha. Photo by KARIM JAAFAR / AFP
Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Roberto Bautista Agut during their ATP Qatar Open tennis semi-final match in Doha. Photo by KARIM JAAFAR / AFP

Paris: Novak Djokovic can become only the second man in history to have twice held all four Grand Slam titles at the same time with victory at the French Open. However, a returning Roger Federer and rejuvenated Rafael Nadal will once again stand in his way. World number one Djokovic completed his first private stranglehold of all four Slams with victory at Roland Garros in 2016. Having clinched the 2018 Wimbledon and US Open titles and then a seventh Australian Open crown in January this year, the Serb is tantalisingly close to another ‘Djoko Slam’.

Federer and Nadal, with 20 and 17 career Grand Slam titles each respectively, may be ahead of 15-time major winner Djokovic in total hauls. However, they have never managed to hold all four of the sport’s greatest prizes at the same time. It is such a rare feat that only Don Budge (1938) and Rod Laver (1962 and 1969), all calendar Grand Slams, have pulled off the sweep in the sport’s history. Djokovic, who turned 32 on Wednesday, is playing down his potential date with destiny.

After losing to Nadal in the Italian Open final last weekend, the Serb was in no doubt that it was the Spaniard who would likely be celebrating a 12th Roland Garros title in a little over two weeks’ time. “Nadal, number one favourite, without a doubt, then everyone else,” he said. However, he admits his Paris triumph of 2016 which gave him his first sweep, is fuelling his bid for more history. “There is an extra motivation and incentive to win Roland Garros because of the opportunity to hold all four Slams, something I did three years ago, and that gives me obviously enough reason to believe I can do it again.”