Novak Djokovic v Rafael Nadal For The 2020 French Open Title, Who’s The Pick?

by Sean Randall | October 10th, 2020, 8:36 pm

Wouldn’t ya know it, the final Grand Slam match of this crazy, truncated 2020 season features the two very best players in the world, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, battling it out for another French Open title.

They played 55 times before in all conditions and on all terrains, but this will be their first showdown in a pandemic.

Djokovic has the head-to-head edge 29-26 and in general, is the more in-form player after his Cincinnati and Rome titles.

Of course this meeting is back in Rafa’s house, Philippe Chatrier, where the Spaniard is 6-1 against Djokovic and 2-0 in this final.

Good news is, both are healthy, fit and should be fresh. I know Djokovic went five sets, but I don’t expect any hangover from the win over the Greek. We’ve seen Novak recover from long matches before and the Tsitsipas victory wasn’t especially taxing.

I think against Tsitsipas, Novak had a little letdown there late in the third allowing the 22-year-old back in. But he stayed calm, didn’t panic and closed it out impressively in the fifth.

Nadal has been doing his thing. He’s back in the final for a sixth time without dropping a set. And course he’s never lost once he reaches the Roland Garros final four.

Jannik Sinner had a chance to get a set, Schwartzman had chances as well. But otherwise, it’s been smooth sailing for the 12-time champ. Maybe too smooth…

Novak Djokovic v Rafael Nadal
So here’s my issue with Nadal: his results. He lost to Schwartzman in Rome. Sinner served for the first. Schwartzman was in much of the match.

Yes, he won, yes, he won in straights, but he hasn’t played anyone close to the caliber of Djokovic. Nadal’s had a great draw, perhaps too great, and I don’t think he knows where his game is really at. He just hasn’t had enough matches. There’s been no Monte Carlo, no Barcelona, no Madrid. I think Rafa needs his rhythm. Does he have it?

We know Djokovic is in form as he rolls in with a 37-1 record on the year. And I think he’s got to have that chip on his shoulder from the default and the off season issues with the virus. And what better way to stick it to the tennis world then by dethroning Nadal on Sunday.

Of course both have big picture, historic motivation: Nadal is trying to tie Federer at 20 and Djokovic is bidding again for a second Career Slam and to get on the doorstep of that Roger/Rafa all-time Slam leaderboard.

I think when the dust settles, Djokovic will sit atop that list, but that’s for another day.

Tomorrow, Nadal will have to play with his usual fire and intensity, and don’t expect anything less. He’ll show up with all systems go. The key for Rafa will be his serve and court positioning. Djokovic is the game’s premier returner and

For Djokovic, it’s also his serve and then his backhand which will be under pressure from that relentles Rafa forehand.

So really, the guy who serves better will win this thing. And as I said, I think Djokovic has just had more form, more reps than Rafa who is playing just his second event in six months.

Who’ll win?

I’m going to do something I normally don’t do, and that is buck the trend. I picked Nadal at the start, but I just think right now Djokovic is the better player. I think the neck issue is behind him as is the default, which he may also be using as fuel.

And he’s beaten Nadal more than anyone else, and beaten him on clay, in a clay final and at the French. Of course no one has ever taken Rafa down in the French final or even come close to doing it, but why shouldn’t that come to an end in this crazy, unpredictable 2020 year? And Djokovic is just the guy to do it.
The Pick: Djokovic in 5

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12 Comments for Novak Djokovic v Rafael Nadal For The 2020 French Open Title, Who’s The Pick?

chofer Says:

My head: Nadal

My intuition: Djokovic

chofer Says:

My heart: also, Nadal.

jatin Says:

Even I am forced to change my opinion after watching Novak’s match on friday and his performances all tournament.

I dont know, But it feels like Novak would finally do it today. You hardly bet against his these days especially after that 2019 Wimby finals which he somehow stole in the end despite getting outplayed by Fed most of the match. His mental strength and will to win is something else entirely. His visualizations techniques and lifestyle changes has an incredible positive impact on him both mentally and physically.

But still its Rafa’s turf and he would do more than his best to keep it. He has a PERFECT record here for a reason.

But here is what my intution is: Novak Djokovic in 4.

Vesna Says:

Novak will be the champion 2020

All Out Says:

Djokovic has been playing solid tennis this week apart from a few hiccups in the quarters and semis.

Rafa came into this slam without matches under his belt and conditions which do not suit his playing style but he has done his utmost to balance between two things:
1. Get as much match time as is possible without overtaxing himself on the court
2. Test which tactics would be ideal to use against Djoker in the finals especially under the present conditions because both of them came in with pretty easy draws.

Ultimately, this is French Open and Rafa gives his absolute best in the finals regardless of who is standing on the other side. I expect nothing less this time around too. He was so mad when he lost that third set last year that he came out all guns blazing in the fourth. I’ll not be surprised if he does that right from the first point this match. For Nole to win, he will have to play the match of his career, which is possible. My head says the conditions give Nole the advantage but my heart says Rafa all the way. Vamos!!!

Van Persie Says:

Perhaps the last Rafole at RG 🙂
I am sure it will be a match to remember.

I will really enjoy it.

@All Out, tot sure ot will be the match of his career for Nole if he wins it, as Rafa is not the Rafa from 2013 or 2014 and Nole is also not at the same level as he was 5 years ago. But it would be a huge achievement for sure 🙂

Nole idemoo!

Giles Says:

Here’s hoping the faker behaves himself today. I would like to see a match without him grabbing his body parts and feigning injury. No antics please faker!!
Vamos Champ!

Kimberly Says:

As soon as I saw this Sean Randall post I know Rafa had this one in the bag!

So funny I am always hosting a birthday party at the french open final but this time its for a different kid! Colin was born early June and my other son Patrick born in October!

James the 1st Says:

I was surprised to see Sean picking Djokovic in 5. I expected Nadal to win in 4. Never saw the drubbing coming though. Djokovic didn’t even play bad.

Andy Mira Says:

Yeah!…Agree with James..i was surprised too when i see Sean picked Nole..doesn’t matter in 4 @ 5..

I actually picked Rafa in 4 in my comments but didn’t come around to post it the other day…Honestly,after i read Novak & Goran’s words..i knew immediately Novak will not gonna win it…Why?Imo,when Goran said that,he put more pressure on Nole who already have a doubt in his mind about facing Rafa at his ‘maison’ he said…i think Nole too bit nervous about completing 2nd career slam..he had troubled completing his 1st..and this time,it’s no different…

And Goran’s words didn’t help Nole at all…and Moya was spot on when he said..he & the team would never said such a thing to Rafa in order not to pressurrize him…But i think Nole will get his 18th at AO next year,insyaallah!…He’s that good!..And at his ‘maison’ too!

Kimberly Says:

I dont care what goes on before until he loses you dont pick against nadal.

ALso watched both the semis and watching how they both played in the semis i did not think nadal could lose. Scwartzman actually may have more power on the forehand and it was still ineffective. But Sean alwauys gets excited and picks the upset and time and time again it does not happen!

Top story: 2024 French Open Day 3: Djokovic Returns With Ruud, Sabalenka, Rybakina Tuesday