Rafael Nadal is like a runaway train and nobody in the Tennis world appears capable of stopping him. Al Dannity looks ahead to a potentially epic battle for Rafa against Novak Djokovic in the French Open Final this Sunday.
Rafa brings the whupping This has been an other-worldly French Open for Rafael Nadal. Not since Nadal’s own triumph in 2008 has a player so comprehensively dominated the Men’s Singles. The Spaniard dropped 25 games, and not a single set, in that record breaking triumph. Nadal hasn’t quite hit those heights this year but he has come awfully close. Through six rounds he has yet to drop a set and has lost just 35 games en route to yet another final. With just one break of serve against his name, Nadal has been almost invincible.
His mastery would be incredible were we not used to Rafa demolishing all comers on the red clay of Paris. Yet still, we watched in awe as he ripped David Ferrer apart 6-2 6-2 6-1 in the Semi- Final. Ferrer is one of the few men to have bested Nadal more than once at a major tournament. This was neither Melbourne nor Flushing Meadows, the scenes of those shockers. This was the French Open and only Robin Soderling has danced with Nadal in this arena and come out victorious. Ferrer, the sixth best player in the world, was no match for the master today.
And what of Novak? Working out just where Djokovic’s game is right now is proving increasingly difficult. The Serb has shown tremendous resiliency to make it to the final, surviving five set wars in the fourth round and Quarter Final. Yet even in his straight sets win over Roger Federer today, Djokovic’s game looked a bit off. Djokovic beat Nadal in the Australian Open Final but his form since hasn’t been as dominant. Outside factors have hindered him somewhat but against Nadal in Rome he was clearly bested by the better man on the day. The best of three format of a Masters Series event limits what we can really learn from such warriors. That’s why grand slams are set up to push the mental and physical boundaries of the greats.
In order for Djokovic to win he must force Nadal into the same dark places the Serb has seen on the road to the final. If Djokovic fails to win either of the first two sets then a rout is all but assured. Should he somehow find the wherewithal to take one however the pressure will move onto Nadal’s shoulders. Djokovic is at his most comfortable playing the kind of Tennis marathons most rational beings would deem barbaric. In these slugfests he can unleash hell upon those before him. Hell ain’t a bad place to be when you have your eyes on holding all four majors at once. Djokovic would do well to remember that on Sunday.