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Conditions would be perfect for Novak Djokovic if he plays Rafael Nadal in Roland Garros final: John McEnroe

2020 French Open - Day Eleven
2020 French Open - Day Eleven
Modified 08 Oct 2020, 16:30 IST

With US Open champion Dominic Thiem out of the French Open, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are on course to clash in the final. The pair are through to the semifinals in Paris, where Nadal will take on Diego Schwartzman while Novak Djokovic will face Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas.

If the two do reach the Roland Garros final, it is sure to be a historic occasion. Rafael Nadal will be aiming to win his 20th Grand Slam title and tie Roger Federer for the most Majors in men's tennis history, while Novak Djokovic will be hoping to win an 18th Slam title and close the gap on Nadal and Federer.

Nadal has been slightly more impressive in the tournament so far, having reached the semi-finals without dropping a set. On the other hand, Djokovic dropped his first set of the tournament during his quarter-final clash against Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta on Wednesday, where he needed a medical timeout after seeming to have trouble with his arm and neck.

But American legend John McEnroe still feels the conditions are more suited to Djokovic than to Nadal, and that the Serb's physical troubles in the quarterfinal were just a minor blip.

Novak Djokovic is trying to catch Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, so he's put a lot of pressure on himself: John McEnroe

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic after the men
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic after the men's singles final at Roland Garros in 2014

John McEnroe noted that the cold conditions did seem to affect Novak Djokovic on Wednesday, but added that the Serb's problems may have been exacerbated because of the pressure he is feeling at the moment.

"Obviously he was thinking a little bit about the US Open to me because his opponent was the same guy when he got defaulted, that was a little bit in his head," McEnroe said.
"We've talked throughout the tournament about how cold it is there, so that's an issue. You could see that it appeared to be bothering him, the arm, his neck. The other part of it is the pressure. He's trying to catch Rafa and Roger so he's obviously put a lot of pressure on himself. To me, the outcome was never in doubt unless he literally stopped playing," he added.

McEnroe believes that while Novak Djokovic has been known to take medical timeouts before, the cold conditions in Paris may have enhanced the need for a visit by the trainer on Wednesday. The 61-year-old was also impressed that Djokovic eventually managed to overcome these issues.

Novak Djokovic receiving medical treatment during his quarterfinal match against Pablo Carreno Busta
Novak Djokovic receiving medical treatment during his quarterfinal match against Pablo Carreno Busta
"We've seen these shenanigans a bit before from Novak Djokovic, there was a period of time for a year and a half or two years where he sort of went off the rails and had issues mentally and physically. But now when I see it, I think he can overcome it like he did today," McEnroe said.
"These conditions are rough and they're playing best of five sets. You're going to have aches and pains. There's no two ways about it, there's no way you can say that isn't going to happen. More importantly to me is not that he had a stiff neck but that he got through it, he's going for a Slam and if he goes and plays Rafa in the final, which is what most people think will happen, these conditions are absolutely perfect for him to play Rafa," McEnroe added.

The semi-finals of the French Open are scheduled to take place on Friday.

Published 08 Oct 2020, 15:13 IST
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