It will be a battle of the wit in the final of the men’s 2020 French Open when the first-two ranked tennis players-Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal clash tomorrow.
While, the world’s number two dismissed Argentine Diego Schwartzman in three straight set in the first semifinals, top seed Djokovic withstood a gutsy fightback from Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas to set up a French Open final against his long long-time rival.
The Spanish second seed is going for a record-extending 13th title and the 34- year old has only lost twice on the Roland Garros clay in his career and won all 13 of his semi-finals there.
If Nadal lifts the Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy yet again, it will see him equal Swiss rival Roger Federer’s all-time leading record of 20 men’s Grand Slam titles.
“It is always very difficult against Diego until the end,” said Nadal.
“I am happy with the way I played, I think I have been improving and it was a very positive match for me.”
Everything is unfamiliar about this French Open: the tournament taking place in cooler weather after being moved because of the coronavirus pandemic, a new roof over Court Philippe Chatrier, floodlit matches going long into the night and a sparse, restricted crowd of up to 1,000 fans.
Heading into the tournament, Nadal said a lack of usual preparation for his favourite Grand Slam, the autumnal conditions in Paris and a heavier new ball provided him with the “toughest test” which he had ever faced at Roland Garros.
Aside from a tricky start against Italian teenager Jannik Sinner in the quarter-finals, it has actually been smooth progress for the Spaniard, who has yet to drop a set over the fortnight.
However, a truer test of the 19-time major champion’s real level will come on Sunday as Djokovic will be standing on the opposite side of the net.
Djokovic is one of only two men – along with Sweden’s Robin Soderling – to have beaten Nadal at a tournament which the left-hander from Majorca has dominated since 2005.
Djokovic will be meeting Nadal for the 56th time in their careers – no two men have played each other more and will contest their ninth Grand Slam final against each other.
The Serb, meanwhile, knows a victory will move him to 18 major titles – within one more of Nadal and two adrift of 39-year-old Federer.