Originally written on In The Neutral Zone  |  Last updated 4/21/13
  For someone who wasn’t sure if he’d play this week, Novak Djokovic sure made the most of his time on court. Not only did he end one of the most venerable runs in the sport but also served notice to those on tour, he’s the number one challenger to the Roland Garros crown. Decision to play I’m sure many of us feared the worst when we heard the news that Djokovic’s Davis Cup winning tie over Sam Querrey was overshadowed by an ankle injury. He was able to finish that match and was largely hopeful that things would be okay in the coming weeks. However, he came into his adopted home tournament still unsure of his playing status. I felt going into this week, he had more reasons to rest than risk further injury playing. First, Monte Carlo is only the first of three clay masters events and one where Djokovic only had to defend finalist points. He surely would not try to over extend himself when there would be many other chances to prepare for Roland Garros. Obviously, his situation was better than reported and the draw of Monte Carlo and stopping Rafael Nadal proved to be more important. Streak Stopper Novak Djokovic understands how it feels to lose a 40+ win streak. His incredible streak to start the 2011 was halted on the clay in Paris. A tough end to a great run but one that saw him beat Nadal twice in important clay court finals (Rome and Madrid). So it’s not hard to believe that Rafa’s eight straight titles and 46 straight wins in Monte Carlo would end against Nole. He is able to stay in rallies with Nadal and use unreal angles to get past Nadal’s court coverage. It’s hard to predict that he could do this over five sets in a possible matchup with Nadal in Paris but there is a lot of evidence to suggest that he will have the best shot at it. Just think we could be a little less than eight weeks from a third guy in this era completing a career grand slam! Highlights of the Tennis Weekend It was Fed Cup week for the women’s tour all across the globe as teams fought for berths in this year’s final and spots in next year’s world group. The standout performance belong to the Russian women led by Maria Kirilenko and Ekaterina Markarova who came back from two down to upend the Slovaks. Another winner was the rain as it halted two matchups including the Czech Republic and Italy who resume Monday with a spot in the finals on the line. Check out more on the blog A man and his racquet  
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