This is a BIG Match
For Djokovic to win:
Djokovic needs to take care of his serve as his return is the best in the business. If he gets multiple routine holds per set, the pressure shifts heavily against Nadal.
Djokovic needs to establish patterns in points in which he keeps the ball into Nadal’s backhand and then takes advantage of ever improving positioning during individual rallies. Once his court positioning is strongly established, Djokovic can attack the court even to Nadal’s forehand side.
Djokovic has to mentally be prepared to face a man who seemingly stops at nothing and sometimes wins points from a nearly no-win position. Djokovic cannot let those things phase him.
For Nadal to win:
Nadal has to serve well to negate some of Novak’s return game.
Nadal has to make use of the geography of this court that allows him to scramble so well.
Nadal has to avoid rally patterns that might cause his backhand to breakdown.
Nadal has to have an iron will. At the 2013 US Open final, he seemingly broke a mental dam in Djokovic and cruised through the 4th set.
Nadal is 6-1 vs. Djokovic at Roland Garros, but this match is their first French Open clash since 2015 and it is in October.
Heavier conditions and different tennis balls may not favor Rafa, but he has played 6 matches in this event and won 18 sets while losing 0 sets so he may have adjusted reasonably well to the 2020 conditions and tennis balls.
First, tennis fans win. That may sound sappy of me to say, but the historic and current strength of these two competitors is off the charts. Also, the stakes for the winner and loser are high as their totals are so close in so many different areas that a win here adds to one’s big title haul while denying the other a chance to add to his total. Every tennis fan ought to be able to look forward to this clash and what it will bring.
Someone will lift the big trophy. My predicition is that Rafael Nadal finds a way to the finish line first. He is 99-2 at the French Open. He has so many wins to draw upon in order to believe even when facing the airtight game of Novak Djokovic. In 2005, Nadal looked like he might be willing to lose consciousness in order to beat Guillermo Coria at Rome. He has been doing that ever since (and before as well). That intensity level on every point takes a toll on an opponent.
Djokovic winning would be a tremendous achievement. Djokovic seems to sense big moments and play exceptionally well in them. Therefore, this is not going to be an easy road for Rafa. Still, I cannot pick against someone with a 98% winning percentage at Roland Garros and a 12-0 record in French Open finals.
My Prediction: Rafael Nadal d. Novak Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5
I hope the match goes 5 sets, and we see each man tested mentally and physically. My guess is the match will be really good, but it won’t quite live up to its potential. This is potentially the biggest macth ever so that is a high standard to reach. I think Rafa’s forehand, hustle, and iron will prevail in a really good match. Selfishly, I hope I am wrong and it is a great match though.
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