There’s no doubt that Novak Djokovic is the best tennis player in the world, and has been for the better part of the last five seasons. But he is still trying to win in Paris, with none of his eight grand slam titles coming at the French Open, where he has lost three times in the final.
In 2011, the year Djokovic won three Grand Slam titles in and was destroying Nadal on clay during the Masters tournaments prior to the French Open, it was Roger Federer who stood in his way, beating him in the semifinal in four sets that included two tiebreakers. This was the third time Djokovic made the Roland Garros semifinal, and third time he lost.
Djokovic began 2012 with an Australian Open title but didn’t do as well against Nadal in the Masters tournament. Still, he made the French Open final for the first time in his career after a nice 3-set sweep against Federer. In the final, he did get one set out of Nadal, but that was it, making it the first of three finals losses in Paris.
Djokovic won his third consecutive Australian Open in 2013 but once again didn’t translate it into French Open success. Unluckily for him he ran into Nadal during the semifinals and in an epic contest lost in five sets which lasted over four and a half hours, with some calling it the best match ever played on clay.
In 2014 Djokovic did win Wimbledon for the second time in his career, but he missed out on an Australian Open title for the first time since 2010 and lost to Nadal, once again, in the Roland Garros final, taking the first set but then falling apart against Nadal’s last major hurrah to date.
In 2015 Djokovic looked unbeatable, much like his form in 2011. He wins the Australian Open for a fifth time and follows that up with four Masters titles: Two on the hard courts of Indian Wells and Miami, two on clay in Monte Carlo and Rome. But in the French Open? He makes the final, and loses for the second time in his career to Stanislas Wawrinka when playing for the trophy, winning the first set and then losing three in a row.
He’s been the best player in the world for the last four years, at least most of the time. But he’s still missing that title on clay in a Grand Slam to complete his career Grand Slam, and it remains a thorn in his side when trying to win the argument of best player ever. Even with that title, he needs a bit more in terms of dominance to touch and reach where Roger Federer is at.