History On the Line As Djokovic Takes On Nadal For 2012 French Open Title

2012 Men’s French Open Champi0nship
#2 Rafael Nadal (-330) vs #1 Novak Djokovic (+270)
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Roland Garros – Paris, France
Playing Surface: Red Clay
Sunday, June 10, 2012, 9:00 am Eastern, TV: NBC

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic meet in the championship of the 2012 French Open.

Regardless of who wins on Sunday between #1 seed Novak Djokovic and #2 Rafael Nadal in the Men’s French Open Final, history will be made. Djokovic can complete the career grand slam and would also hold all four major titles at the same time. It wouldn’t be an official grand slam, as it isn’t in the same calendar year. Call it the “Djoker Slam” if you will. That is something his top competitors Nadal and Roger Federer have never done in their brilliant careers. If Nadal wins, then he will become the first player in the Open era to win 7 French Open titles. He currently holds the record along with Bjorn Borg with 6. Nadal and Djokovic are meeting in their fourth straight Grand Slam Final. Djokovic beat Nadal in the finals at Wimbledon and the US Open last year, and in the Australian Open this year.

Nadal has lost one match in 7 career starts at Roland Garros, with a record of 51-1.  Nadal has 10 Grand Slam titles overall. Nadal is 39-4 this season, with titles at Rome, Barcelona, and Monte Carlo, all on clay. He lost in the Australian Open Final to Djokovic.

Nadal hasn’t dropped a set so far in 6 matches. The 26 year old from Spain has wins over Simone Bolelli, Denis Istomin, Eduardo Schwank, #13 Juan Monaco, and #12 Nicolas Almagro in the quarterfinals. Almagro took him to a tiebreaker in the first set, but no one else has won more than 4 games in any set against Nadal at the French.

Nadal dominated fellow Spaniard #6 seed David Ferrer in the semifinals 6-2, 6-2, 6-1. Nadal was 60% on first serves, and Ferrer was 56%. Nadal had 2 aces, 1 double fault, and 16 unforced errors, while Ferrer had 1 ace, 3 double faults and 35 unforced errors. Nadal won 83 points, and Ferrer won 48. Nadal converted 7 of 10 break points, and Ferrer was 0-2.

Djokovic is 36-5 this season with titles at Miami and the Australian Open. The 25 year old Serb has losses to Nadal in the finals at Rome and Monte Carlo. Djokovic has made it at least to the semifinals of the last 8 majors, including this one.

Djokovic had to survive two brutal 5 set matches in the fourth round against #22 Andreas Seppi and #5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarters. He dropped the first two sets against Seppi. Djokovic not only had to battle the tough Tsonga, but the frenzied French crowd who were rooting hard for their countryman. Djokovic won the first set 6-1, before Tsonga won sets 2 and 3 by 7-5 scores. Djokovic won the fourth set in a tiebreaker, and breezed to a 6-1 win in the fifth set. Djokovic didn’t drop a set in his first three match-ups against Potito Starace, Blaz Kavcic, and Nicolas Devilder.

Djokovic beat #3 Federer in straight sets. Djokovic won 6-4, 7-5, 6-3. Djokovic was 68% on first serves, and Federer was 56%. Djokovic had 6 aces, 2 double faults, and 17 unforced errors. Federer had 9, 3, and 46 respectively. Djokovic converted 7 of 10 break points, and Federer was 4 for 8. Djokovic won 101 total points to Federer’s 76.

Nadal leads the series 18-14 against Djokovic. Nadal has won the last two matches against Djokovic in the Finals at Rome and Monte Carlo, both on red clay. Djokovic had won 7 straight against Nadal until the winning streak.  Djokovic has two victories against Nadal on clay, both last year in the finals at Rome and Madrid. This is the 9th straight meeting in finals between Djokovic and Nadal, not really surprising considering they are the top 2 players in the world, and usually on opposite sides of the bracket.

It would be a great accomplishment if Djokovic could unseat Nadal on clay. He would certainly be the best player in the world. He is already dominant on hard courts and grass against Nadal. However, Nadal is far and away the best player on clay. That won’t change. Nadal wins in 4 sets, but Djokovic keeps each set close, say 6-4 or 7-5.

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