This match is what every tennis fan has been wanting since the conclusion of the 2012 Australian Open. Nadal pushed Djokovic for nearly 6 hours (6 hours!) in Melbourne. Can Rafa reverse the tide of 3 consecutive Grand Slam final losses to Novak? If Monte Carlo and Rome’s results are to be taken seriously, the answer is yes. If Nadal’s history in Paris is considered, the answer is yes. In fact, Nadal is the clear favorite in this match despite Nole’s 27 consecutive Grand Slam match wins and 3-0 record versus Rafa in slams during that stretch.
History: Rafa vs. Borg & Nole vs. Laver
Eclipsed? A commentator on NBC mentioned Rafa having a chance to eclipse Bjorn Borg if he wins the French Open. This seems kind of like saying a Siberian Tiger eclipses a Bengal Tiger in size. Still, Nadal owning the most French Open crowns is a unique opportunity for Rafa.
I think Novak Djokovic being the reigning champion at all 4 majors would be there greatest accomplishment in tennis history. That is all Nole has on the line during the final.
Beyond all of this, Novak can complete a career Grand Slam. Novak has joined Rod Laver and Andre Agassi for stringing together 4 consecutive Grand Slam finals. Rafael Nadal is in sole possession of the 3rd best streak of Grand Slam finals with 5 consecutive. Roger Federer still owns the best streak of 10 and second best streak of 8 consecutive Grand Slam finals.
Why Novak Could Win: Does He Have an Oxygen Destroyer?
I tweeted this at the outset of the French Open, “Beating Nadal on clay is like beating Godzilla. Sure someone might invent an oxygen destroyer, but the odds are against it.” If anyone has the tennis equivalent of an oxygen destroyer it is Novak. I think Nole can win if he serves bigger than Rafa and then is willing to pay the price and play a lot of long points. The reason I say this is that Novak is still the best returner of serve in the world. This is an edge he could exploit and break serve often enough to win the match.
Why Rafa Could Win: Clay Court GOAT
I am not sure I need to answer this. Rafa destroyed Juan Monaco who is a top flight clay court player. Rafa dominated David Ferrer the #6 player in the world. Rafa is dismantling people on clay this year. He is also the greatest clay court player of all time.
I am going out on a limb here and picking Novak Djokovic. If he is willing to pay the price, he can win this match. I think Novak has been pointing toward this opportunity since winning the Australian Open. I am not going to read anything into Novak’s 2012 losses to Andy Murray and John Isner. I think Rafa soundly beat Novak in Monte Carlo and Rome. My pick is based upon the idea that Novak knew he only has one clay court war in his body. I think he has saved it for this match. That does not mean Novak will win, but I do think this will be more of a war than Rome or Monte Carlo were. Logic says that Rafa wins, but I am a nut for tennis history and may be clouded by my desire for seeing something sublime occur.
My Pick Novak Djokovic in 4 Sets