Nadal vs. Djokovic- French Open Final 2012
Nadal goes head-to-head against Djokovic in a mouth watering French Open Final- Who holds the aces?
Rafael Nadal, the king of clay will face off against the world number 1 Novak Djokovic at this year’s French open Final on Sunday, the 10th of June. The final would see one of them setting a record and another going back thinking of what could have been. Both have a lot of things at stake in the final.
Records that can be made
If Djokovic wins his first French Open title, he would hold all the four grand slams, the first one to do so in 43 years. The last one to achieve the feat was Rod Laver when he completed the Grand Slam in 1969. On the other hand Rafael Nadal would look to surpass Bjorn Borg’s record of six French Open single titles which he himself holds jointly with Borg.
Nadal and Djokovic- head-to-head record
The final is going to be an epic irrespective of who is going to win. Both players are on the top of their game. Djokovic ranked number one has won the last three grand slams, and Nadal has beaten Djokovic in their previous two clashes at clay this year. Nadal leads Djokovic in overall head to head matches with a record of 18 wins to 14 losses. However, recent head to heads show an edge to Djokovic, he has won the last 7 of the 9 matches played between the two. Moreover the last two grand slam finals that they have competed have also gone to Djokovic.
The overall head to head matches have no significance though, as the final would be played at the clay of Roland Garros where Nadal reigns supreme. He has an overall record of 51-1 at French Open, with his only loss coming at the hands of Soderling in the 2009 French Open. His overall record at clay against Djokovic also stands at an impressive 12-2. Moreover, Nadal has beaten Djokovic in all their previous three clashes at the French Open, without losing a single set.
Road to the final
Both the players have come on the back of thundering victories in the semi finals. Djokovic beat the Swiss Maestro, Roger Federer in straight sets, whereas Nadal beat his fellow compatriot and sixth seeded David Ferrer also in straight sets. However, apart from the semi final, it has been tough going for Djokovic as he had to face tough competition in both the fourth round and quarterfinal. In the fourth round he was came from 2-0 behind to win against the 22nd seeded Italian Seppi, whereas in the quarters he saved two match points before going on to win against the fifth seeded French Joe Wilfred Tsonga. Nadal, on the other hand has eased into final without losing a set in the whole competition. He has just been broken once in all the six matches he has played before the final. This has been the kind of domination that has taken Nadal to six titles at the French Open.
Nadal and Djokovic- Contrasting strategies
Both players have very similar playing style in which they remain on the backline and have great defensive play. They also have great court coverage and athletic ability and thus, a hard-fought five setter is surely on the cards. Djokovic would have to rely on his defensive abilities and let Nadal make the play, the two things that have served him so well in his previous three grand slams final victories at the Wimbeldon, US open and Australian open against Nadal. This however, is the clay of Roland Garros where Nadal’s top spin heavy shots are almost impossible to answer, especially due to the height he is able to generate. Moreover, the previous final between the two at Rome shows how Nadal has planned his strategy against the Nole, in which he sends his serve at the direction of Novak’s forehand diminishing the quality of his returns. Nadal and Djokovic both have great fitness, but Djokovic would have to be at his best, as Nadal would move him around the whole court and the longer the match goes on, the harder would it be for Djokovic to keep himself in the long rallies which Rafa is so much effective at maneuvering. Finally in such a high stake much it would also depend upon who is better able to handle all the pressure. If Novak follows what he did at Rome and allow his emotions to get the better of him, there is no way he would be able to stand up to Nadal. On the other hand Nadal has shown that he can manage the stress with ease, his record of winning more matches against both Federer and Djokovic bears testimony to this.
My Final Prediction
All the statistics and head to head between the two only point out that Nadal will once again stamp his authority at the French Open and will set his mark for generations to remember by winning the French Open the most number of times. For Djokovic, he would have to put his best efforts and hope that Nadal is not on song, because if he is, there is no way that Djokovic would become the second man after Rod Laver to hold all the grand slams.