Top-seeded Novak Djokovic plays second seed Spaniard Rafael Nadal in the French Open 2012 final at Roland Garros on Sunday.
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Nadal’s journey to the final has been spectacular and Friday showed another example of his prowess. He was 1-2 down in the first set with David Ferrer having a couple of break-points to his name before Nadal flattened his opponent for a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 victory. He was on court for one hour, 46 minutes.
After the match, Nadal commented that he did everything correctly. But he also clarified, "But I don’t believe in perfection. It does not exist. You can always play better. I am not thinking I am in the final without losing a set; I am just thinking I am in the final."
He added, "Experience has taught me you can lose when you are playing fantastic; you can win when you are not playing that well. Last year I had the impression I didn’t really play that well, whereas this year I am playing really well."
This means that Nadal enters the final, having dropped only 35 games in the tournament so far, a far cry from his opponent Djokovic, who has had his struggles on clay this French Open.
Djokovic, who goes into the final knowing that a win is all he needs to become the first since Rod Laver to hold the four Grand Slams simultaneously.
He was rather impressive in his easy win over Roger Federer on Friday, avenging his 2011 defeat in Paris when he won 6-4, 7-5, 6-3. Later he declared, “I believe that was the best match of 2012 Roland Garros for me, so I've raised my game when I needed to. I played really well when it was the most important, so that's something that gives me confidence obviously before the final.”
Interestingly, this is the fourth successive Grand Slam final in which Nadal and Djokovic are meeting and the Serbian has won all three so far. Speaking of the last time they played each other at a Grand Slam, Djokovic said of the epic six-hour Australian Open final, “It's definitely the most exciting match I ever had in my career. Considering the fact it was a final, it was just [an] incredible historic match to be part of.”
The world number one would have been relieved with his straight set semi-final win, especially after two successive five-setters. He was two sets down against Andreas Seppi in the fourth round before needing to save four match-points against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals.
In the head-to-head, Nadal is slightly ahead with an 18-14 record against Djokovic. This includes two wins in the finals of clay court tournaments this year at Rome and Monte-Carlo. While Djokovic did win a couple of matches on clay against Nadal last season, he has also lost 11 other matches on that surface against the defending champion.
Nadal will be an overwhelming favourite to bring home a record seventh French Open title unless Djokovic can produce his best ever game on clay and hope that Nadal’s intensity drops.
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