On Sunday, the tennis world will witness the match that everyone has been waiting for - the Roland Garros final between World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and 12-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal.
This is not going to be just another final, as the result will have a big impact on the GOAT race. A win for Nadal will tie him with Roger Federer at 20 Slams, while a win for Djokovic will take him to 18 Slams - one short of Nadal and two shy of Federer.
On Friday, both players won their semifinals but in contrasting fashion. Rafael Nadal defeated Diego Schwartzman in a three-set affair while Novak Djokovic defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets, after failing to convert a match point in the third set.
Former champion Mats Wilander recently spoke with Eurosport about how Novak Djokovic's inability to close out his semi-final in straight sets might hurt his chances in the final against Nadal, who has yet to drop a set in six matches.
"For Novak Djokovic, that’s what he will be disappointed with," Wilander said. "He could have put this match away in three sets and didn’t do it. A match like this will add just a little bit for Novak in the final. I thought that going into the final that Rafa would need to make a good start. But now after this match this evening, then maybe Novak is the one that needs a great start because he’ll be feeling this one a little bit. I think Rafa seeing Novak losing two sets gives Rafa another reason to literally go to the limit and beyond on the court before he loses on Sunday.”
But former World No. 2 and two-time Roland Garros finalist Alex Corretja was of the opposite view. The Spaniard believes that Novak Djokovic's semi-final will give him confidence that he can go the limit against Nadal, since he has already come through a severe test against Tsitsipas.
To beat Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic knows he needs to go over the limit: Alex Corretja
Corretja pointed out that Novak Djokovic's long match would have made him battle-ready for Rafael Nadal, which is exactly what you need to be when you face the 'best in history on clay'.
“In my opinion, the fact Novak’s match went on longer than he might have expected, it might give him a strength and rhythm," Corretja said. "To beat Rafa he knows he needs to go over the limit and if you haven’t faced the limit for a long time, I think it might be difficult. I don’t think it should affect him too much. I think Novak is fresh and he’s ready for the battle. He knows he’s playing the best in history in clay, probably the biggest challenge in sport.”
Sunday's final will mark the 56th meeting between the two players - the most between any two men in tennis history.Published 10 Oct 2020, 16:56 IST