Opinion: Can Djokovic win the French Open?


Credit: Alyssa Ao

WSPN’s Jeffery Zhang reflects on if Novak Djokovic can win the French Open.

Jeffery Zhang

Loss. Loss. Loss. Novak Djokovic’s results have been on a downhill ever since his win at the Australian Open, prompting many to wonder if he’s prepared for the upcoming French Open. Djokovic played three tournaments since his win at Australia, all of which ended in disappointing losses. He wasn’t injured and he wasn’t coming off of a period of not playing, prompting concerns of a falling career. However, although his recent losses forebode the worst, the stats say otherwise.

To start, let’s analyze Djokovic’s statistics in the 2023 season. Due to the fact that most points on the pro-circuit only last around three to five shots, Djokovic will be relying on his serve and return when he plays in the French Open.

Djokovic’s serve however is in excellent condition right now. In the 2023 season, Djokovic made his first serve 64.3% of the time, and won 75.6% of points when he made his first serve. The average speed of his first serve is 118 miles per hour. While this may not be an extremely fast serve, its effectiveness can be deceiving. This year alone, Djokovic has hit 71 aces with an average of 5.5 aces per match. In addition, Djokovic has only hit 40 double faults, with a 1.78 aces to double faults ratio. Overall, the Serbian has won 85.1% of service games, making it near impossible for someone to win a game off of Djokovic’s serve.

The next important piece of Djokovic’s game is his return. A good return is the difference between a good player and a great player. In 2023, Djokovic has won 32.6% of points off of a first serve return, and he’s won 51% of points off of a second serve return. Theoretically, if his opponent’s first serve percentage is low enough, it would allow Djokovic to capitalize on his opponent’s second serve and win the majority of points.

Overall, he’s won 25.3% of games on his return, and if you add this to the fact that he wins 85.1% of service games, Djokovic’s win percentage is extremely high. But, if you ignore the serve and the return, and focus on pure point statistics alone, how does Djokovic fare?

Out of 2002 points played in the 2023 year, Djokovic has won 1075 of them with a 53.7% point win rate. If this was a math test, Djokovic would surely be failing. But it’s different when it comes to tennis. A failing percent is winning in tennis. As long as your win percentage is higher than your opponents, even if it’s only by .01%, you still end up winning the match. That’s why Djokovic’s 53.7% win rate is extremely impressive.

In terms of his winners and errors, Djokovic’s numbers are fairly ordinary. 44% of the points that Djokovic has lost have been forced, and 18.7% percent of the points that Djokovic has lost have been unforced. Meanwhile, 33.6% of Djokovic’s points won have been winners, making his winner to unforced error ratio 2.04.

All these numbers mean that Djokovic still has the skillset and the ability to win. But, can he perform like the champion he is? Djokovic is 35 years old. He’s only getting older, and while I hate to say it, he doesn’t have a lot of time left on the court. If he’s going to win, it has to be this French Open, otherwise there won’t be many chances left for him.

Not only is he running out of time to win one last title, but this grand slam could put him in the lead for the most grand slams in the history of the sport with a whopping number of 23. A French Open win would push Djokovic past tennis legend Rafael Nadal, who is unable to compete in the 2023 French Open, and finally end the GOAT debate.

Djokovic has nothing else to prove in my eyes. He is still defending his title as the No. 1 ranked tennis player in the world, even after 386 weeks. Djokovic has already won 22 grand slam titles, securing his 22nd win at the Australian Open. Even with these numerous titles, he isn’t a flashy tennis player. However, his playing style isn’t very unique. Yet, it’s his ordinariness that makes him the greatest. He doesn’t have a massive forehand, or an otherworldly serve. He’s just a solid player all around, and that’s what makes him so good.

As a fan of Djokovic, I genuinely hope he can walk away from what could be one of his last grand slams with a victory. If Djokovic fails to win one last time, I’m afraid it might mean the end for him.