2020 French Final: Djokodal LVI


Who do you got in this championship match?

We pinned this to our destiny when the draw was announced two weeks ago. We needed this match. 2020 has been relentless. We’ve clamored for normalcy, even the past, because there is so much doubt now and about the future.

The tennis over the last couple of months has helped us deal (there are other pacifiers, other elixirs we’ve found to dull the pain of Covid, massive injustice and Trump — all three of those things converge on that orange failure, interesting to note).

Life remains a struggle right now for a lot of us for a variety of reasons.

Put at least some of that anxiety on hold for a few hours (if you’re a tennis fan, if you can).

We get Nadal vs Djokovic tomorrow morning 6am PST.

I will be on my couch, with a cup of coffee and my dog, Coco Bella.

We should be in for an epic final at Roland Garros. Coco is beside herself.

There is so much at stake in this match.

Sure we got a scare in the Tsitsipas/Djokovic semi-final. No, we were not necessarily rooting against Tsitsipas, for Djokovic. You know damn well where I stand on the one-hander. Stefanos is a very bright spot in the present and future of this sport.

The Greek turned the tables on his own fate. We’ve already discussed, explained. He found Rublev here at the French and avenged Hamburg.
Stay tuned for his next meeting with Borna Coric. Run, Borna. Run.

His play from match point in the third set of that SF yesterday, on Novak’s serve, until the conclusion of that fourth set, leveling the match at two sets apiece, was scary and downright unplayable. He had Novak on the run. His attacking style, coming forward, wielding that Fear Hand, hitting his serve, executing the ever-popular clay toy, the drop-shot, pushed Novak into a corner.

From which the Serb responded. Djokovic reasserted himself with a 6-1 decision in the fifth.

Now the table is set.

A few more thoughts on what’s at stake, how this plays-out:

How will losing his grip on that semi-final, having to go five sets instead of three, affect his play in the final tomorrow? Has he jeopardized his energy or stamina? Will the drama, the loss of composure against Tsitsipas and the subsequent return to dominance, form, enhance his mental and physical approach?

Will his win in 2015 over Nadal in the French QF matter? Will this instead ignite more meaning in Nadal’s approach, wanting to beat Djokovic all the more because of that straight-set blow-out (Nadal was struggling quite a bit at the time, to be fair, but he was dismissed by the third and final set 1-6).

And what about the legacy numbers?

The biggest for me is the potential swing in the total majors.

After tomorrow’s match, we could be looking at Nadal with 20 majors, tying Roger. Djokovic would remain at 17, a seemingly distant second with Nadal still playing to add to that total.

Or we could be looking at Djokovic with 18, inching ever closer to Nadal at 19. That’s a big swing right there, factually and psychologically.

Some might see the biggest number(s) in Rafa’s potential to add to his RG legacy, which staggers the mind (good and bad 😉

If he wins tomorrow, he’s secured his 13th French Open title and his 100th victory at Roland Garros. Wow.

Of course, Novak reaches the very elusive Double Career Slam with the win, two slams at each of the four majors, on all three surfaces. Neither Roger or Rafa can make that claim. Goes nicely with his Golden Masters, having won every one of the Masters level championships, which neither Roger or Rafa have completed, either. I think Djokovic’s Cincinnati win this year gave him the double Golden Masters.

All of this concerns GOAT jibberish.

A Djokovic win tomorrow gets him that much closer to Nadal (18 to 19); add the Double Slam and the victory over Nadal in a Roland Garros final and you have quite a recipe for dominance in this era of the Big 3.

As for the match (ha ha, the most important part to this conversation): I think Djokovic’s best tennis has been on display in Paris this fortnight. I think his serve is especially a factor. And I think that DTL BH is pretty consequential. This version of his BH was off vs Tsitsipas for most of the match. He’s pretty tough to beat when he can go to both corners, deep, with the BH.

One of Nadal’s key competitive advantages is his ROS. So if Novak’s serve is on, that advantage is limited. Trying to break Novak, even trouble his serve, is different, imho, from returning Diego.

Novak, on paper, has the tools, including the fortitude, to beat Rafa at RG.

But can he in a final? This is the church of Nadal, the Vatican — and the Spaniard, yep, is the Pope.

I like Novak in this match tomorrow, but how in the world could anyone be surprised if Nadal comes through. In fact, most people will be surprised if Nadal doesn’t win.

Like you, I can not wait.

4 thoughts on “2020 French Final: Djokodal LVI

  1. Alex

    Hi Matt – it’s a pretty delicious looking final. But I was utterly disappointed to see Taitsipas’s body fail him in that SF. He was on a roll and painting lines against Djokovic. I would’ve liked to see if he was able to close out the match. Not to be though.

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    1. I like your thinking. I didn’t sense he was struggling watching him play, but the visit from the trainer was ominous. He will benefit from this SF showing against a high flying Djoker. Tsitsipas is for real.

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  2. oh boy – don’t really remember watching Djokovic getting psychologically destroyed in a match quite like this.

    Thought Nadal would have it in 4, but never like this.

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