We’re down to our final two players in the Men’s singles draw as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic face-off in their 42nd meeting, a record in the open era.
Nadal, the World number 1 and 8 time Roland Garros champion, reached the final after destroying Brit Andy Murray 6-3 6-2 6-1 in a masterclass of clay tennis. Djokovic, the 2nd seed, saw off Latvian Ernests Gulbis 6-3 6-3 3-6 6-3 in a topsy-turvy match that could have gone either way but ended with the Serbian prevailing.
Djokovic faced arguably the tougher draw out of the pair, with the Serb having to play Marin Cilic, Jo Wilfried-Tsonga, Milos Raonic and Gulbis to reach Sunday’s showdown. He’s in impressive form having only conceded two sets in his 6 current matches. On the other hand, Nadal avoided a seeded player until the Quarter-Finals where he met fellow Spaniard David Ferrer who looked like causing an upset by taking the first set but Rafa responded in true champion style by winning the next three sets. That was the only set he has conceded throughout the tournament despite having to play two-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray in the semi-finals.
As mentioned above, this will be the 42nd meeting between the two with Nadal leading the head-to-head 22-19. A telling fact from their head-to-head however, is that Djokovic has won their last 4 meetings including their last match in Rome this year, on clay. All 4 have of these matches have been in finals, potentially giving Novak the physiological edge.
If Djokovic does win the final, he will add another name onto the career Grand Slam list, with the name Rafae lNadal already on there. Nadal is chasing his 9th Roland Garros title having won 8 of the last 9 he’s entered and only ever suffering one defeat on the clay of Paris.
Their matches are always very difficult to predict given that the head-to-head is so close. Novak appears to hold the mental edge over Rafa due to winning their last 4 meetings but it’s impossible to rule Rafa out on clay and especially at Roland Garros, the venue where he has incredibly only ever lost one match which was back in 2009 with Robin Soderling the victor in their 4th round tussle. For me, the first set is key, if Novak takes it then he will start to believe he can win it & their previous results may get into Rafa’s head but if Nadal wins it then he’ll be near impossible to stop given his outstanding record. My heart says Djokovic in 4 but my head says that we’ll see that famous trophy celebration from Nadal once again.
All we’re required to do, is sit back and enjoy.
Nadal’s route to the final:
R1 – Ginepri 6-0 6-3 6-0
R2 – Thiem 6-2 6-2 6-3
R3 – L.Mayer 6-2 7-5 6-2
R4 – Lajovic 6-1 6-2 6-1
QF – Ferrer (5) 4-6 6-4 6-0 6-1
SF – Murray (7) 6-3 6-2 6-1
Djokovic’s route to the final:
R1 – Sousa 6-1 6-2 6-4
R2 – Chardy 6-1 6-4 6-2
R3 – Cilic (25) 6-3 6-2 6-7 (2) 6-4
R4 – Tsonga (13) 6-1 6-4 6-1
QF – Raonic (8) 7-5 7-6 (5) 6-4
SF – Gulbis (18) 6-3 6-3 3-6 6-3