“It is going to be interesting to see how Rafa deals with the situation mentally. When all is said and done he has lost his last four straight Masters 1000 events to Djokovic,”
“That must have some effect on him. Maybe he lost in Rome because of what happened in the three previous finals?
“I am not going to worry about him, but there is no doubt that he is facing an important point in his career. Mentally it can’t be that easy for him.
“For myself I don’t think it is the same as regards Djokovic.
“Even if I have lost my last three games against him I don’t think he was dominating me.
“In Rafa against Novak that could count – worth keeping an eye on it.”
I thought this was good stuff from Roger. It seems like he is playing the old mind games with Nadal. This is something he has done throughout his career. He likes to say things in the media which puts the pressure on his opponent, and here he is just letting Nadal know that the pressure is on. I think it’s smart. Nadal is at an important point in his career. He is at a point where he has the opportunity to equal Borg with six French Open titles, which in most people’s minds would make him the clay court GOAT. Outside of Roland Garrros he has a better resume than Borg on clay, so if he equals him in clay court slams won he would be the clay GOAT. But at the same time there is this Serbian who is making things difficult for the Spaniard. You just can’t deny four straight losses to the guy in finals, two of them on clay.
Djokovic’s incredible run of form comes right on time to make this clay court season the most interesting in ages. And in particular Roland Garros. It was always a foregone conclusion that Nadal would win in Paris. The fact that he lost to Soderling in 2009 was totally unexpected. But this time there is a legitimate challenger. In fact Djokovic is the favorite as far as I’m concerned. Yes, Nadal has won in Paris five out of six years. He is the proven commodity. Yet I can’t help but feel like he has gotten into the mind of Nadal. The fact that he beat Nadal in four straight finals, two on clay, of which Nadal couldn’t win a set, just puts Djokovic in the perfect position to topple Nadal in Paris. There is a certain amount of mental ownage involved that just can’t be denied. I don’t care if it’s best of five sets and that Nadal supposedly owns the French Open.
Djokovic knows he can beat Nadal. And it seems Roger knows it too. Yet there is a long way to go towards the final. Personally I wouldn’t be surprised if Nadal is upset before the final. Given Djokovic’s draw, I guess it’s not impossible that he could get upset before the final as well. So why exactly is Roger saying all this? I doubt he is extremely motivated to play Nadal in another French Open final, given their history there. It seems he is saying all this in case Djokovic and Nadal should meet in the finals. In that case it would mean he doesn’t want Nadal to win the French Open. Nadal is his rival after all, and he doesn’t want him to break his records. I think Roger is in a relaxed mode, since he has already won the title and achieved everything. Now he is pretty much just looking to put the pressure on Nadal and make it harder for him to add to his resume.
Lets face it, Roger is not a favorite to win this. It is between Djokovic and Nadal. I think Roger would obviously prefer that Djokovic won, should those two meet in the final. Roger is right, this is an important time in Nadal’s career. If Djokovic beats him in Paris it will make Roger’s dominance in his prime look even better. It will also be a serious blow to Nadal’s career. The ownage of Djokovic over him will be complete, having beaten him in the place which he has owned for years. It reminds of when Nadal beat Roger in the Wimbledon final, a kind of changing of the guard. Roger was never quite the same after that loss, and the same will be true for Nadal. It would mark the beginning of the end for Nadal, and Roger’s slam record will be all but safe. I don’t care how much Fedfans dislike Djokovic. If he beats Nadal in Paris he would have done Roger a huge favor.
He is already doing me a huge favor by making this the first watchable clay court season in ages. If he beats Nadal in the final it will a be a big moral victory and sweet revenge for Fedfans and Roger alike. Nadal will taste the bitterness of what he did to Roger at Wimbeldon 2008 and the Oz Open 2009. What more can we ask for?