Novak Djokovic, the world no. 2 and 12 times Grand Slam champion has been struggling with form lately. The clay court swing should have been a wake-up call for the Serb, but things got off the rail as he parted ways with his coaching staff.

Scrambling to regain pace, Djokovic is showing some positive signs as he is already in the last eight stages in Rome, the last significant ATP event on clay before the French Open.

But things are about to get trickier for the Serb player as his path will bump into del Potro first while Rafael Nadal could be the test for the semis. A runner-up in Rome back in 2016, Novak is two matches away from matching that result.

Del Potro getting some speed on the Italian clay court

Having a slow start in 2017, del Potro is yet to make a full commitment regarding the ongoing season. With no big expectations in his corner, the 28-year-old Argentine put the pieces back together in what was a compelling win against Kei Nishikori.

Getting past the Japanese in the previous round puts him in front of Djokovic for a place in the last four stages. Reaching the quarterfinals in Rome is an encouraging outcome given the fact that he had to battle past Grigor Dimitrov, Kyle Edmund, and Nishikori.

Those three compelling wins give a moral ascendant to the Argentine. The head to head stats has Djokovic leading del Potro by a slide margin with a 13 to 4 overall numbers. Djokovic won their two previous meetings earlier this year in Acapulco and at Indian Wells while del Potro scored a stunning result at the Olympics in Rio ousting Djokovic in the opening round.

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The winner of this particular showdown will cross path with that of Rafael Nadal vs. Dominic Thiem clash.

Novak Djokovic could lose his slot

With Rafael Nadal closing the gap fast, Djokovic could lose the second slot in the ranking after the French Open. It's going to be an enormous task for the Serb as he must defend last year's result when he clinched that elusive Roland Garros.

Nadal is free floating having almost nothing to defend while Wawrinka seems unable to produce his top game. If Djokovic gets past del Potro, he might have the chance to take some revenge over Nadal.

A potential win against the Spaniard might be the right moral incentive. It's been a year since Djokovic ended a circle only to start another one, a year full of disbelief and questionable results. A revived Djokovic just before Paris could inject some new thrills into the men's tennis.