Novak Djokovic will try for his second career French Open title – but he’ll have to get through Rafael Nadal to do it. Photo by Stephanie Myles/OpenCourt.ca.
- Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal meet for the 56th time in the French Open men’s singles final on Sunday (Oct. 11th)
- Nadal is 6-1 in their meetings at Roland Garros and is the favorite to win his 13th French Open title (-136)
- Does Djokovic have a legitimate shot? What props are most intriguing? Read on to find out
Novak Djokovic is seeking his second career French Open men’s singles title and 18th career Grand Slam title.
Rafael Nadal is seeking his 13th trophy in Paris and his Roger Federer-tying 20th Grand Slam title overall.
Despite Nadal’s pre-tournament complaints about the conditions and Djokovic’s physical niggles earlier in the week, you know they’ll both be ready to bring it Sunday at 3:00 pm Paris time (9:00 am ET).
Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal Odds
| Novak Djokovic (SRB)||+1.5 (-108)||+115||O 39.5 (-115)|
| Rafael Nadal (SRB)||-1.5 (-113)||-136||U 39.5 (-106)|
Odds as of Oct 9 at DraftKings.
Djokovic Needed Five Sets vs Tsitsipas
The last thing Djokovic needed was a marathon in the semifinals against Stefanos Tsitsipas.
But that’s what he got, after being up two sets to none and having a match point in the third set.
It ended up going five sets – and lasting six minutes short of four hours with a score of 6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 4-6, 6-1.
He said afterward, however, that he came out of it feeling good physically. There was no sign of the neck and left-arm issues that had plagued him in his previous match.
Dry, Cool Conditions on Sunday
Sunday’s forecast is dry but chilly, with the temperature maxing out at 14C (57F) early in their clash.
Nadal is hardly enamored with the conditions. While he coped just fine in his first six matches, Djokovic is his biggest challenge.
Djokovic’s Recent Dominance
Djokovic has dominated the head-to-head in recent years.
The Serb has won 14 of their last 18 meetings going back to the Beijing final in 2013.
2020 French Open Odds Tracker
Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal Head-to-Head
|33 (May 22, 1987)||Age||34 (June 3, 1986)|
|Belgrade, Serbia||Birthplace||Manacor, Mallorca, Spain|
|81||Career ATP Singles Titles||85|
|17||Career Grand Slam Singles Titles||19|
|No. 1||Current Ranking||No. 2|
|37-1||2020 Won/Loss record (includes French Open)||21-4|
|$144,159,599||Career Prize Money||$121,044,734|
On clay, Nadal leads 17-7. But that’s misleading.
The Mallorcan won the first nine; since then, he’s only ahead 8-7 and that’s after having won the last three.
Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal – Recent Meetings on Clay
|2019||Rome||F||6-0, 4-6, 6-1||Nadal|
|2018||Rome||SF||7-6 (4) 6-3||Nadal|
|2016||Rome||F||7-5, 7-6 (4)||Djokovic|
At the French Open, in best-of-five sets, Nadal is the acknowledged maestro. But their most recent meeting goes back more than five years; their last final was six years ago.
Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal – French Open Showdowns
|2015||QF||7-5, 6-3, 6-1||Djokovic|
|2014||F||3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4||Nadal|
|2013||SF||6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7 (3), 9-7||Nadal|
|2012||F||6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5||Nadal|
|2008||SF||6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (3)||Nadal|
|2007||SF||7-5, 6-4, 6-2||Nadal|
|2006||QF||6-4, 6-4, retd.||Nadal|
Nadal in Better Form in Paris
Nadal hasn’t lost a set in his first six matches in Paris. Only twice was he even pushed to a tiebreak. In the semifinals, he defeated Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (0).
Djokovic has lost three sets in his last two matches, which took more than seven hours combined to complete.
In addition to his earlier physical niggles, Djokovic has expended a lot more energy getting to this final showdown.
Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal – 2020 French Open Stats
|Player||No. of sets won/lost||No. of games won/lost||Hours on court|
Djokovic thinks he has a better chance against Nadal in chilly October than in balmy June.
“He’s lost twice in his entire career on this court. Obviously, the conditions are different than the ones that we are used to playing in May and June. I think that could be a better chance for me, obviously the ball not bouncing as high over the shoulder as he likes it usually,” Djokovic said. “Regardless of the conditions, he’s still there, he’s Rafa, he’s in the finals and we’re playing on clay.”
The best in the world will go head to head.
See you on Sunday.#RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/VEb9j1YFcJ
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) October 9, 2020
On any other surface, in any other stadium, Djokovic would be the favorite.
But this is Nadal’s house.
A bet on either Djokovic (+525) or Nadal (+425) to win in five sets is a good play. It could be that close.
Based on the narrow odds for the total-games prop (even over 46.5 games checks in at a relatively modest +215), it’s expected to be a marathon.
Taking Djokovic to win the first set (+114) is worth a shot; Nadal’s first-set nerves mean he often doesn’t get the depth on his forehand into gear early, and Djokovic can take advantage of that.
Pick: Nadal in five sets (+425)
Stephanie gets the straight dope from the tennis insiders. On court, she has represented her country internationally. A BA in journalism led to years on the MLB beat and a decade covering tennis globally. She’s written for Postmedia, the Guardian, the New York Times and also publishes OpenCourt.ca.