Rafael Nadal virtually never losses at Roland Garros. Novak Djokovic hasn’t lost – at least not in the conventional sense – in 2020. But only one of them can take home the 2020 French Open men’s title on Sunday.
Nadal comes into their clash as a -144 favorite over Djokovic (+120), according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Nadal Chasing 13th French Open Title, 100th Win
In the semifinals, Nadal defeated Diego Schwartman in straight sets, winning 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (7-0). It was yet another win for the most successful French Open champion of all time. Nadal has won the tournament a record 12 times, and has an astounding 99-2 record all time at Roland Garros.
“The only thing I know is: To ply against Novak, I need to play my best,” Nadal said after his win. “I know it is a court where I have been playing well for such a long time, so that helps. At the same time, [Djokovic] has an amazing record here, too, being in the final rounds almost every single time.”
There’s plenty on the line for Nadal in the final. He holds 19 total Grand Slam titles, one short of Roger Federer’s men’s record. A win on Sunday would put the two rivals even at the top, with the younger Nadal maintaining more of a chance to adding to his total in the future.
Djokovic, meanwhile, is third on that list with 17 major titles. He moved into the French Open final after a thrilling 6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 4-6, 6-1 victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas. Djokovic has just one French Open title in his career – coming in 2016, when Nadal withdraw mid-tournament due to a wrist injury – but he has finished as the runner up on three different occasions, and has reached at least the quarterfinals in every year since 2010.
Djokovic: Fall Conditions Might Even the Odds
While he faces a difficult task, Djokovic beat Nadal at Roland Garros in 2015, handing Nadal one of his two career French Open defeats. The Serbian star is also enjoying one of the best years of his career. He has put together a 37-1 season so far, with the only loss coming by disqualification at the US Open.
Djokovic also thinks the unique situation of playing the French Open in October will work to his advantage.
“The conditions are different than the ones that we are used to playing in May and June,” Djokovic said after his semifinal win. “I think that could be a better chance for me – obviously, the ball is not bouncing as high over the shoulder as he likes it usually. Look, regardless of the conditions, he’s still there. He’s Rafa, he’s in the finals, and we’re playing on clay.”
While Nadal remains the favorite, it’s unusual for sportsbooks to show so much respect to any opponent of his at the French Open. But no matter how good Djokovic has been this year, he’ll still have to play an incredible match in order to come out on top.
“I hopefully will be able to play my best tennis, because that’s what’s going to be needed in order to have a shot at the trophy,” Djokovic said. “I understand what needs to be done and how I need to prepare myself. I’m looking forward to it.”