Djokovic v Federer means advantage Nadal

The Serb has defeated Nadal four consecutive times this season, and twice on clay, but as long as Federer remains on Djokovic's side of the draw, the world No 1 can breathe easy.

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A month ago, Rafael Nadal seemed to be counting down his days as world No 1. Novak Djokovic seemed unstoppable, and Nadal was losing his edge on clay.

"The No 1 ranking is not in danger, it's finished," he said after Djokovic defeated him in straight sets at Madrid. "Let's not lie to ourselves, that's the reality."

However, the manner in which the French Open played out reminded us of the clear advantage Nadal has over the two men chasing him.

At grand slams, Roger Federer and Djokovic likely must defeat the other to get a shot at Nadal. The Spaniard, meanwhile, gets a semi-final against a player on the south side of the chasm between No 3 and the rest of the world.

Despite all the winning he did to open the season, only at the Paris Open did Djokovic encounter the daunting task of facing Federer and Nadal in succession. He pulled it off; he could not at Roland Garros.

This double-jeopardy problem exists for Federer, as well. He may be close to a spent force as world No 1, but he remains a force against lesser players and on a given day can still beat the top two.

But not in succession. Nadal may no longer be better than Djokovic; the Serb has defeated him four consecutive times this season, and twice on clay.

But as long as Federer remains in Djokovic's side of a draw, Nadal may not have to see Djokovic.

This reality may have Nadal a bit more confident about extending his hold on No 1, now at 54 weeks and counting.