WILL EVANS’ daily preview serves up French Open tips for a monster semi-final duel between iconic duo Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
04:00 (AEST), Thu 10th Jun @ Roland Garros, Paris
History: Played 1: Djokovic 1 V Berrettini 0
Last meeting: ATP Finals, 2019 (RR): Djokovic d Berrettini 6-2 6-1
Final Thoughts: Last year’s finalists – and two of the greatest players of all time, who boast an exhilarating 15-year rivalry – square off in a titanic French Open semi-final match-up.
But it’s 13-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal who heads in as a hot $1.36 favourite to dispose of world No.1 Novak Djokovic. Nadal has won the last four French Opens and has been as dominant as ever over the past fortnight – on top of capturing the Barcelona Open and Rome Masters titles in the lead-up.
Nadal put away Alex Popyrin, Richard Gasquet, Cameron Norrie and Jannik Sinner in first four rounds without dropping a set. Tenth seed Diego Schwartzman put up more of a challenge – ending Nadal’s 35-set winning streak at the French Open – but Rafa ultimately powered to a 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-0 victory.
Djokovic, the 2016 French Open champ, has endured a slightly tougher path to the semis. He breezed past Tennys Sandgren, Pablo Cuevas and Ricardas Berankis in straight sets.
But he had to claw back from two sets down against unheralded teenager Lorenzo Musetti, who eventually retired during the fifth. Ninth seed Matteo Berrettini took some beating in the quarters, too, with Djokovic eventually winning 6-3 6-2 6-7 7-5.
Djokovic boasts a one-match lead in the legends’ 57-encounter head-to-head. But the Grand Slam ledger is 10-6 in Nadal’s favour – including a 7-1 record at the French Open.
Djokovic’s sole win over the ‘King of Clay’ at Roland Garros was in the 2015 quarter-finals. But Nadal has won the last five matches on the red dirt, including a straight-sets demolition in last year’s French Open final and a see-sawing 7-5 1-6 6-3 result in the recent Rome Masters decider.
Djokovic’s most recent wins over Nadal came in the 2018 Wimbledon semis, the 2019 Australian Open final and the 2020 ATP Cup.
Nadal boasting an outstanding 28-6 record in Grand Slam semi-finals – and 13-0 at the French Open, going on to win the title every time he’s made it past the quarters. Djokovic is 27-11 in Grand Slam semis but just 5-5 at the French Open.
If there’s anyone capable of pushing Nadal to the brink, it’s Djokovic. But Rafa just seems unbeatable on the Roland Garros clay – as his 33-match French Open winning streak attests. He’ll be too good again.
FRENCH OPEN TIPS
|Alexander Zverev V Stefanos Tsitsipas||Result – Zverev @ $2.98|