Nadal Say’s He Would Improve To Beat
Djokovic In The French Open Final
Rafael Nadal says he knows he must improve his level if he wants to beat top seed Novak Djokovic and win a record-setting 13th French Open crown. Second-seeded Spanish Nadal has lost just two games in 16 years at Roland Garros but faces a tough test against the fit Serb in Sunday’s final.
Djokovic, one of the men who beat Nadal there, has only lost one match in 2020 when he was suspended at the US Open. “I know that to play Novak, I need to play the best he can,” said Nadal, 34.
If Nadal wins, he will be equaled by Swiss rival Roger Federer’s all-time record of 20 men’s Grand Slam singles titles. Djokovic, who has won 17 majors, will narrow the gap with both Federer and Nadal if he wins.
Nadal, who aims to become the first person to win 100 singles matches at Roland Garros, has not lost a single set on his way to the final. However, he was pushed around by Italian teenager Jannik Sinner in the quarterfinals and only faced a seeded player for the first time when he beat Argentine Diego Schwartzman in the semi-finals.
The 33-year-old Djokovic has lost just three sets but seems to be playing at a higher level than his great rival.
The world number one won all 37 matches he completed in 2020, and his only loss came when he was ejected from that infamous US Open fourth-round match against Carreño Busta last month.
Nadal did not go to New York due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic and as a result, he has played only nine games since March.
“Without playing my best tennis, the situation is very difficult,” said Nadal, whose only another defeat on clay at Roland Garros was against Robin Soderling of Sweden in 2009.
“I know it’s a court I’ve been playing well on for so long, so that helps. But at the same time, he also has an incredible record here, being in the final rounds almost every time.
“He is one of the toughest opponents possible. But I’m here to keep doing my best.
“I know I have to take a step forward. I think I did one in the semifinals. But for Sunday that is not enough. I need to do another.
“That’s what I’m looking for. I’m going to work hard to make that happen.”
With the tournament delayed until October due to the coronavirus pandemic, the colder conditions in the fall of Paris are not to Nadal’s liking as much as the hotter and more overflowing surface on which the final is usually played in June.
“I think it could be a better opportunity for me, obviously the ball doesn’t bounce as high over his shoulder as he likes,” said Djokovic, who won his only French Open title in 2016.
“Regardless of the conditions, he’s still there, he’s Rafa, he’s in the final and we play on clay.”