Well that didn’t quite pan out the way I hoped. The final got postponed to today due to rain last night, but the rain did in fact clear up and then for some reason Djokovic and Nadal decided they did not want to play. Djokovic went down a break early on but broke back and then started looking like the dominant one. He kept putting pressure on the Nadal serve while holding serve easily himself. He could not take advantage of his break point opportunities however. With Nadal serving at 4-5 and 30-30 there was controversy where Djokovic hit a shot that looked like it would be a winner but the lines person called it out. It ended up being in and they had to replay the point. This seemed like a turning point but in truth Djokovic had a forehand earlier in the point he should have put away.
This was his problem the whole match. He could not finish points off when it needed to be finished off. This is something I picked up on already in the US Open final last year. Djokovic allows Nadal to hang in points for longer than he should because he does not put away the short ball or go to the net when he should. It became more apparent in the Australian Open final this year where Nadal came very close to winning the match. That should have been a wake-up call for Djokovic, but I didn’t notice anything different in Monte Carlo or today. On hard courts it’s easier to get away with it, but on clay Nadal will make him pay. He will keep running down everything and frustrate you. Djokovic just lacks the variation. He doesn’t hit enough angles, drops shots, or go to the net often enough.
He should be more decisive when the opportunity presents itself to win the point. Or maybe it’s just the fact that he isn’t on the level he was last year anymore. Either way he needed to be more decisive. Nadal then went on to break Djokovic in the next game and held serve to win the first set 7-5. Nadal also broke in the opening game of the second set. Djokovic needed to hit back right away. He got up 40-0 on the Nadal serve but couldn’t take advantage of his break points. Again he lacked the killer instinct to get it done. Nadal had won five games on the trot and that turned out to be decisive. Djokovic could not even make Nadal serve for the match as he double faulted on match point at 3-5. Watching this match was frustrating.
The clay season is a done deal. Nadal will win his 7th French Open title, unless a miracle happens. The only way he was not going to win it is if Djokovic beat him in Rome. Now I can’t see anyone stopping him. I’m not looking forward to the French Open and I don’t mind the possibility that I will miss it due to going to the US. Nadal will moonball, push, and grind his way to a 7th French open title. Nothing new to see there. Roger is #3 again and I can’t see him avoiding Nadal now. He will either meet him in the semis or in the final if he beats Djokovic. It will be hard to defend his final points from last year now. He could beat Djokovic again given that Djokovic is not the player he was last year, but that would mean another final with Nadal.
Basically I just want the clay season to be over. It’s by far the least interesting part of the tennis season. Just hand Nadal the French Open title already. We know he is the clay GOAT!