The world must wait until 7am ET (1pm Paris time) to determine between Nadal and Djokovic who will become the eventual winner of this year’s French Open. Both men have an opportunity to make history. Nadal, 26, is chasing a record breaking 7th French Open title which would vault him past the current tie he has with Bjorn Borg and cement him as the greatest clay court player of all time. Djokovic is chasing a rare opportunity to hold all Grand Slams at the same time – a feat that Nadal almost did in 2010, and Federer attempted in 2006 and 2007. A first French Open title for Djokovic over Nadal would be quite an accomplishment and a testament to his mental and physical transformation to get to the top of the men’s game. This is an exciting time in men’s tennis, but the crown is Rafa’s to lose.
Rafa outclassed the field coming into this final. Not dropping a set until the final. Least amount of games conceded in a long time. Considerably less court time and energy spent vs. Djokovic and the field on court. Djokovic was pushed and pushed hard and pulled through some tough matches (the Tsonga match comes to mind here). Djokovic has the comfort of knowing that on the big stages and the prior 3 occasions, he has triumphed over Nadal and is poised to do it now on his strongest surface. Nadal cannot let those prior matches come into play. The Spaniard cannot return to Chatrier with the mindset of defending his title or he will lose. Serena Williams carried similar momentum going into the 2002 Wimbledon Final and Venus Williams was the defending champion. She will always be the Queen of Grass in the 2000s, but on that day she succumbed to Serena’s relentless desire to win and add to her collection. Nadal will lose like Venus did on that day if he gives into Djokovic’s sudden rise in confidence. He will also need to ensure he adjusts to the conditions, whatever they are, settle himself and focus on the match. Djokovic only started to play with conviction and belief in the 3rd set and it was clear that Rafa was slightly rattled over the conditions. If he uses this break to reset and attack, I guarantee that he will win.