Nadal when asked if he misses playing against Djokovic:
“It’s better to not play him.”
— Ricky Dimon (@Dimonator) May 19, 2018
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will square-off for the 51st time tomorrow. That alone is noteworthy, but when one considers how tightly meshed their careers have been, especially since early 2011, it is impressive how much the 50 previous matches have mattered. There have been few minor skirmishes between these two. I don’t think either particularly needs this particular win. Yet, it is not a minor skirmish because the two all-time leaders in Masters 1000 titles face-off for a shot at another Masters 1000 title.
Djokovic has already shown that his return to form may not be as long of a road as many seemed to predict recently. Rafa is the odds-on favorite to win his 11th Roland Garros even if he drops another match on clay this season.
For Djokovic to win, he will have to make his return of serve the difference in the match. He has to make Rafa uncomfortable on clay (obviously a tough task). Rafa needs to dictate play and impose his will on the match. Both are capable of doing these things, but obviously, Rafa is at this moment the favorite to do so.