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Chris Wilkinson is a former British No. 1, who now serves as a tennis commentator and as a coach for the LTA. He is ESPN.co.uk's resident expert, providing an exclusive view on the world of tennis.

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Djokovic will be like a wounded animal - dangerous

Chris Wilkinson June 9, 2014
Djokovic disappointed with French Open display

The men's game had better be on its guard with Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon because he will be like a wounded animal.

The French Open was the one that he really wanted to win and it's going to be tough for him now. He looked like he was hurting more in Sunday's final defeat to Rafael Nadal than at any time I've seen him down before - and don't forget how badly losing to Andy Murray at Wimbledon hit him.

Djokovic was gutted in Paris. He thought he was going to beat Nadal and the French Open is the one Grand Slam that he hasn't won. I got the impression he believed he was going to break his duck and it hit hard when he didn't.

His problem was that he tired and got flat - and if you're not at 100% against Nadal he'll find your weaknesses. I actually thought he would win in four sets before it started, only because of the recent record on clay, having beaten Nadal at the Rome Masters.

Tough turnaround time

  • It's a short period to adjust from clay to grass, that's why last year you saw Rafael Nadal struggle, losing to world No.135 Steve Darcis at Wimbledon in the first round.
  • Federer lost early as well because it's a very quick turnaround.
  • The difference is the points are shorter, which is why Nadal has been amazing because he's one of those players who adapts to changes, positioning on court by standing a bit further forward or further back depending on whether it's on clay or grass.
  • But the mentality is different. The points, generally, are shorter, the movement is different.
  • I love it - the grass court season. From a British perspective it's a great chance for our players to do well. I've played at Queen's many times and it's always a big thing to look forward to. It's a very exciting part of the year.

Djokovic was trying to execute the same game plan at the French, taking the ball early and trying to keep the rally short, so it just shows that against Nadal that you've got to be 100% mentally and physically right, otherwise he grinds you down.

Where does Djokovic go from here? That's the question his rivals should be asking. It's a quick turnaround between now and Wimbledon, and that's good news for him because he'll have to forget about the French and move on.

He is not going to sulk and doesn't have much time before he gets a shot at reclaiming the ascendancy and repairing another of his wounds - the one inflicted by Murray in last year's Wimbledon final. He'll want to put that right.

For Nadal, the situation is a bit different. He will head to Wimbledon on an amazing high. Nine French Opens is incredible, absolutely amazing, and says a lot about his mental strength because that is what winning at Roland Garros over five sets is all about.

Over the two weeks, every day and every match is a step towards getting into your best game on those courts, and Nadal can play with the confidence of already having had great success in Paris. You find a lot of players do well at places where they when they've ejoyed good times at a venue.

Where next for Nadal? Roger Federer's record of 17 Grand Slams must be in his sights. By lifting his 14th Grand Slam he went level with Pete Sampras in second on the all-time major winners' list, and is edging closer to becoming the standard bearer.

You would have thought at 28 years of age he's got a Slam in him for pretty much every year for the next three to four years. It's going to be tight, and you've got to take into consideration his fitness and injuries, but if he stays fit, then why can't he get to 17 or 18 Grand Slams?

Struggles ahead for Sharapova

Maria Sharapova won her second French Open in three years © Getty Images
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Congratulations to Maria Sharapova for her French Open success, but don't bet on her repeating the success at Wimbledon.

I can see her struggling on the grass, at the tournament she was knocked out from in the second round last year. Such a fall is not unusual and you can understand it because she has come through some tough matches on clay. The change of surface means her movement can get exposed, so she could face a few problems.

Serena Williams is still the one to beat. Her record is pretty awesome and I make her the favourite. The women's French Open final was refreshing, however, as it's been a while since we had a three set final in the women's game. It was a good opportunity for Halep but Sharapova showed once again how strong a competitor she is.

Sharapova's resilience will be what she needs if she struggles at Wimbledon and she showed she still has it in spades in Paris, not only in the final but also in matches before that over three sets.

It's also refreshing, and positive for the women's tour women's, that Halep did well and Eugenie Bouchard came through and made it to the semi-finals.

Bouchard is going to feature in the top 10, top five possibly in the years to come and there are some different names knocking on the door so I think it's been an excellent fortnight for the women's game.

Chris Wilkinson is a former British No. 1, who now serves as a tennis commentator and as a coach for the LTA. He is ESPN.co.uk's resident expert, providing an exclusive view on the world of tennis.

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Chris Wilkinson is a former British No. 1, who now serves as a tennis commentator and as a coach for the LTA. He is ESPN.co.uk's resident expert, providing an exclusive view on the world of tennis. Chris Wilkinson is a former British No. 1, who now serves as a tennis commentator and as a coach for the LTA. He is ESPN.co.uk's resident expert, providing an exclusive view on the world of tennis.