There is a scenario which could well happen at the French Open this year which I would like to bring to your attention. With Nadal having avoided the upset in the first round, there must be a good possibility that he now makes the final, in which case he will be one match away from equaling Borg in French Open titles won and thereby becoming the clay GOAT. On the other side of the draw it seems we may well have a semi-final with Roger against Djokovic. Should that match take place, who do you want to win? The answer may seem obvious. But is it really? I know a lot of you would say Roger when first asked. But what happens when he faces Nadal in another French Open final? They have already faced four times at the French Open, three times in the final of which Roger have all lost. And because of this he is 2-5 against Nadal in grand slam finals.
This is probably the worst thing on his whole resume as a tennis player so far. The fact that his main rival dominated him in grand slam finals. If he is to play Nadal in another French Open final, you would think the same fate awaits him there. I would like to be optimistic, and if he somehow manages to beat Djokovic, he would gain a lot of confidence from such a win. But the one reason why this scenario will probably never take place in the first place, is because of Roger’s backhand. It just gets exposed by the likes of Djokovic and Nadal, and the more high-bouncing the surface, the more it gets exposed. Roger’s one handed backhand has become his achilles heel in the latter part of his career, along with his mental issues. Nadal with his forehand and Djokovic with his backhand can equally expose Roger’s backhand on clay.
But at least Roger has a positive head-to-head against Djokovic, while the beatings he has taken at the hands of Nadal in the past does not put him in good stead for another French Open final face off. The amount of spin with which Nadal hits his forehand, and the fact that it angles away from Roger’s backhand, makes it even harder for him to deal with than Djokovic’s awesome backhand. My honest opinion is that Roger can’t beat Djokovic in a semi-final meeting. But lets say JesusFed shows up or Djokovic loses to Del Potro in the next round and Roger makes the final. What would you prefer, Roger losing to Del Potro or Djokovic, or Roger winning and then losing in the final to Nadal? I know a lot of you would be inclined to just say that Roger should make the final, especially if it means he ends Djokovic’s streak in the semi’s.
But think about it for a second. If he loses to Nadal in the final, that means 2-6 to Nadal in grand slam finals, while Nadal would be the clay GOAT and on 10 slams. This means Roger’s legacy weakens while Nadal’s legacy improves. It would give Nadal confidence and go a long way towards putting the mental blows which he suffered at the hands of Djokovic behind him. He would also be a big contender for Wimbledon then. Now take the other scenario. He plays Djokovic in the final and loses, which will probably be the case. You can just imagine what devastation that would cause to his psyche. That is five final losses to Djokovic in a row, three of them on clay, and one in a grand slam final. I mean the ownage would be immense. It would be a changing of the guard, and Nadal would be on the very brink of burnout.
Nadal is getting to the age now where the type of game he plays will cause him to burn out. The signs are all there that Nadal is nearing the end. Sure he has hardly lost to anyone aside from Djokovic this year, but I nonetheless believe it would be a significant event if he loses to Djokovic in the French Open final. It seems it would trigger Nadal’s burnout, while if Nadal wins the French Open he will gain new confidence. So there it is, I have spelled it out for you. I still think the chances are pretty small that Roger will beat Djokovic in the semi’s, but Djokovic could be upset by someone else for that matter. Djokovic is fighting against history himself at the moment, given that he is now on a 41-match winning streak. History shows that the early forties is where the winning streak begins to end, with the record being 46 by Vilas.
All time greats like Roger, Lendl, Mcenroe, and Vilas could not go further, and Djokovic is not even in that bracket of all time greatness yet. If Djokovic wins the French Open he will equal Vilas’ 46 match winning streak. There is a lot of history on the line at this year’s French Open that is for sure. So what will it be? Do you want Roger in the final, or Djokovic? Call me a sadist, but I don’t want Nadal to win many more slams. I want him to go down to Djokovic in the French Open final. That could make him vulnerable enough for Roger to exploit him as well, and improve his head-to-head with Nadal. The head-to-head between the two would be less significant the less slams Nadal wins. As someone who has made Roger suffer a lot in his career and dented his legacy somewhat, I would prefer Nadal to lose in the final to Djokovic and taste some of his own medicine.