Rafael Nadal plays down favourite tag
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic go into the French Open final on Sunday both looking to write themselves into the history books. While Nadal is looking to win a record seventh title at Roland Garros, overtaking Bjorn Borg, world number one Djokovic aims to become the first man in 43 years to hold all four Grand Slam titles.
The world’s top two have now reached the finals of the last four slams, a feat no other players in history can match. Such domination in previous years would have been labelled as boring and predictable; however, the way in which both players have overcome major hurdles, on route to achieving such success, has lead to nothing but respect from players and fans alike. Despite both players recording comfortable semi-final victories, the ease at which Roger Federer and David Ferrer were discarded was a joy to behold.
Conditions could have a huge bearing on the final proceedings. Nadal has not only proved himself to be the best player on clay but also the master of battling against windy conditions. With textbook movement, Nadal is able to adjust to the ball right up until the last second, enabling him to be in the perfect position to fire his massive top-spin groundstrokes. Federer has labelled Nadal the “overwhelming favourite” for the final, a claim that the Spaniard is refusing to be drawn upon.
Although he lost to Nadal three times at Roland Garros, Djokovic will go into the match with confidence, having reached the final in spite of a number of close matches in previous rounds. Djokovic has completed three victories in slam finals against Nadal, including a five-hour epic at the Australian Open. However, Nadal certainly has had the edge in recent meetings, having beaten his Serbian rival in back-to-back finals in Monte Carlo and Rome, and is yet to lose a set in this year’s championships.
It has all the makings of a classic match-up, between two of the greatest athletes the game has ever seen. With the potential of rain and adverse conditions, mental strength may become of key importance in order to keep to a consistently high level of play. With Nadal known for his incredible shot making and Djokovic for unbelievable defensive abilities, tactically it is an intriguing game for the neutral.