Move over children, the large boys are back. It took all of 1 Grand Slam for normalcy to be restored. Dominic Thiem’s US Open victory – the primary by anybody aside from Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer after 13 Slams – had only one member of the ‘Big Three’, who too was defaulted within the fourth round. French Open has two of them. Both will play the ultimate.
Defending champion Nadal and world No 1 Djokovic will meet for the 56th time on Sunday, probably the most clashes between any players within the Open period. The former can match Federer’s all-time males’s singles Slam record of 20 with a jaw-dropping 13th Roland Garros title; the latter can turn into the primary man in half a century to win all of the 4 Majors not less than twice.
Nadal – on clay, in a concluding, on the French Open – is a unique beast altogether. Djokovic will probably be no straightforward prey although. Here’s why:
After their fourth-round victories, the ATP Media Info put out a stat record that confirmed Nadal and Djokovic going toe-to-toe within the event at that time. Both had the similar count of units gained (12) and misplaced (0), bagel units (2), games gained (72), most games misplaced in a set (4) and most games misplaced in a match (10).
In the 2 matches since they’ve taken barely totally different paths to the ultimate – Nadal had hard-fought but straight-set wins over Jannik Sinner and Diego Schwartzman within the quarter-finals and semi-finals, respectively. Djokovic, whose just French Open win arrive in 2016, dropped a set towards Pablo Carreno Busta earlier than outlasting Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 4-6, 6-1 within the semis. Still, Djokovic spent just 45 minutes further on court docket on Friday in comparison with Nadal’s slugfest that lasted 3:09 for 3 units.
More game time
In this pandemic-disrupted season, game time is invaluable. Djokovic has the sting. Not just did the Serb play exhibition games throughout the hiatus, he’s had a 20-match run because the resumption of the tour coming into this concluding, together with title wins at Cincinnati and Rome Masters.
Nadal skipped the US swing of the return and performed all of three matches earlier than the French Open. Other than twice towards Schwartzman and one time towards a drained Carreno Busta in Rome, the Spaniard hasn’t confronted a top-20 player since return. Djokovic will thus current an enormous step up in stage for Nadal.
Conditions, once more
We preserve speaking about it – the slower and heavier circumstances not aiding Nadal’s topspin-heavy game. So far, the clay maestro has tailored however towards Djokovic he’ll be requested sterner questions. “I think that could be a better chance for me, obviously the ball not bouncing as high over the shoulder as he likes it usually,” Djokovic stated, although he is aware of it might not tally for a lot. “I mean, look, regardless of the conditions, he’s still there, he’s Rafa, he’s in the finals, we’re playing on clay.”
That, in essence, is the deal. Nadal is undefeated within the French Open concluding; just two players have ever crushed him in Paris. One is Djokovic, however that arrive within the 2015 quarters. He has not crushed Nadal of their two earlier Roland Garros finals. On the flipside, nobody has crushed Djokovic this yr in accomplished matches. One of them will break the duck on Sunday.
Djokovic v Nadal – face to face
Overall: Djokovic leads 29-26
Grand Slams: Nadal leads 9-6
Grand Slam finals: Tied 4-4
Clay: Nadal leads 17-7
Clay finals: Nadal leads 7-4
French Open: Nadal leads 6-1
French Open finals: Nadal leads 2-0
• Last Grand Slam match: Djokovic gained 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 (2019 Australian Open)
• Last French Open match: Djokovic gained 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 (2015 quarter-finals)
• Last French Open concluding: Nadal gained 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 (2014)