Maxime Battistella: Djokovic in 5 sets
If we follow the statistical logic at Roland Garros, it is difficult to see anything other than Rafael Nadal’s victory. When he is in the final, the Mallorcan always wins. And as Novak Djokovic, winner of only one (the last) of their 7 previous duels on Parisian soil, said himself: the Philippe-Chatrier court is the “house of Rafa”. But once is not customary, I think the Serbian capable of debunking the “Bull of Manacor” for two main reasons.
The first is due to the playing conditions: the autumnal freshness and the heaviness of the balls do not allow Nadal’s lift to give its full potential. The Djoker will not have as much effort to provide as usual with his formidable two-handed backhand to counter the opposing forehand which bounces less high. The second is due to the state of confidence of the world number 1: invincible on a regular basis in 2020 (37 wins and one disqualification), he is on a mission to chase records and knows he has the tactical keys to beat Nadal.
It seems to me that the Spaniard’s immaculate course is a sham. Jannik Sinner frankly deserved to take a set from him, and Nadal showed some signs of weakness against Diego Schwartzman in the third set. It’s light, I agree, compared to the three innings lost by Djokovic, but far from insignificant. Rafa is such a phenomenon on ocher that I can not imagine however anything other than a fierce fight that Djokovic could snatch after 5 sets.
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Alexandre Coiquil: Christmas in 4 sets
A blockbuster to complete the last Grand Slam of this funny year 2020. What could we ask for better? To meet Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in the final of a Major is the best news for everyone. Already, there are the figures, relentless: a Djokovic – Nadal in Grand Slam has become an absolute rarity. This will only be the third time since the Serb’s victory in the quarterfinals at Roland 2015 that the two men have played in Major. There were only two Parisian finals between the two men, in 2012 and 2014. Since time flies, and they are not eternal, we take it, this one.
Difficult to put a big favorite: Djokovic had physical problems before his quarter-final, but these had no impact on his performance in the semi-final, where his resilience and his physique precisely did wonders. If the world No. 1 is doing well physically, there will be a great final. And not a match written in advance.
Rafael Nadal does not have the conditions for him, but he has spent less time on the courts than his rival. He is physically fresh and his trainer Francisco Roig has backed that up. The choice not to go to the United States was also made to allow the Mallorcan to be in optimal shape at the end of the tournament, in his garden. On Nadal is physically well, he has the keys to the truck. If he increases his level and keeps his ball length, he will win this final. In four rounds.
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Sébastien Petit: Djokovic in 5 sets
Is there a more ultimate challenge in tennis? Novak Djokovic is faced with this: winning a second Roland Garros by facing Rafael Nadal in the final, the man with 99 victories in 101 Parisian matches. No one has succeeded in accomplishing what is more than a feat, an impossible mission.
Just by saying that, the Serbian is already jumping into Ethan Hunt’s costume. He who seeks to make history as much as Federer and Nadal has a playing field and a perfect opportunity to continue to make an impression. He has already beaten Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final in his London garden. All that is missing is the most beautiful final on clay, against Nadal, to complete the picture.
Of all the contenders for the final victory, Djokovic was already the only one to stand out clearly from the competition. And despite having the master of the place facing him in the final, I consider that this Nadal, with much less matches than Djokovic in the legs and references in the head, will not be able to stop the triumphal march of Serbian in Paris.
So why 5 sets? Because Nadal will sell his skin dearly in the best of five rounds and Djokovic is never safe from a small downturn … But this time, no ball like at the US Open, no previous defeat that could leave a door open for the opponent … The lesson this season so far is that it is only Djokovic to beat Djokovic.
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Laurent Vergne: Nadal in 5 sets
This is perhaps the most difficult prognosis you can imagine. On the one hand, Rafael Nadal, the most dominant player that this sport has known on any surface, whatever it is. On the other, Novak Djokovic, whom no one has been able to beat on a regular basis this year. The Serb enjoys almost unwavering confidence. We saw it again on Friday against Tsitsipas. Even jostled, even forced to play a 5th set after having had a match point an hour before, he remained in absolute control.
Despite everything, and even if it is based on almost irrational considerations (the weight of the place, its past, their past), I still have so much trouble betting against Rafael Nadal. The task is immense for the Mallorcan. This final is a bit like the one he did not have to play in 2011, when Roger Federer was responsible for doing the work by taking out Djokovic in a semi-final that has become legendary. As at the time, the Serbian is undoubtedly above the Spaniard.
The playing conditions, such as to reduce the impact of his lift, do not serve Nadal’s purposes either. However, I find that we continue to underestimate him and, frankly, to disrespect him. Until proven otherwise, the boss here is him. The opposite will perhaps be proven on Sunday, I wouldn’t be more surprised than that, but his ability to seize every opportunity or almost continues to impress me at home. This final will be played at a handful of points. Djokovic is not far from infallible, but Carreno and Tsitsipas have proven that he can be pushed around. If he regains ball length, Nadal can get away with it. Even through a mouse hole.