French Open nears familiar territory of a Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic final

By The Telegraph

Wintry winds, empty stands, late-night finishes. From the moment Victoria Azarenka stormed off court on the first morning – claiming that “I live in Florida, I am used to hot weather” – this French Open has been radically different from the norm. Now, though, the bookmakers believe that Sunday’s showpiece will return us to more familiar territory. As the men’s final approaches, their odds favour a record 56th meeting – and 14th at Roland Garros – between the two dominant players of the past decade: Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. To get there, these serial champions must evade a couple of would-be ambushers on the road. In Friday’s semi-finals, world No 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas takes on Djokovic for the first time at a major, before Diego Schwartzman – the 28-year-old Argentine – will look to reprise his stunning 6-2, 7-5 victory over Nadal in Rome three weeks ago. In normal circumstances, one might write both matches off as a foregone conclusion. We have been searching for cracks in the glass ceiling of men’s tennis for several years now, only for the ancien regime to ruthlessly suppress all challengers. These are not normal circumstances, however. Even before this event began, Nadal was already warning that “conditions here probably are the most difficult for me ever in Roland Garros”. Now it looks as if Sunday’s final could become the first grand-slam showpiece to be played in 13 degrees. Nadal’s 12 French Open titles have been built not only on the withering power of his legendary leftie forehand, but also on the vicious top spin that makes the ball leap up at your throat. On a hot day in May or early June, he is unplayable on Court Philippe Chatrier: the minotaur in his labyrinth. But now, in early October, the cold is muffling his superpowers.

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Via:: Sports Headlines


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