Christophe Ena/Associated Press
Nobody is more dominant at Roland Garros than Rafael Nadal. He’s won 12 French Open championships, four more than anybody else. And at 34, the Spaniard isn’t slowing down, having won the tournament each of the previous three years.
On Sunday, Nadal could potentially make it four in a row and win his 20th career Grand Slam title. But it’s never an easy task when he has to take on Novak Djokovic.
It’s not much of a surprise that Djokovic and Nadal, the top two seeds in the tournament, are in the men’s singles final at the French Open, which is set to take place at 9 a.m. ET on Sunday on NBC. Djokovic has 17 career Grand Slam titles and is always a contender at major tournaments, even though he only has one French Open victory (2016).
But that’s mainly because of Nadal’s dominance at the tournament. He’s won the French Open eight of the past 10 years and has a 99-2 career record at Roland Garros, per ATPTour.com. His only two losses came in the fourth round in 2009 to Robin Soderling and the quarterfinals in 2015 against Djokovic, whose 74 career wins at Roland Garros rank second behind Nadal.
When Djokovic won the French Open in 2016, Nadal withdrew from the tournament prior to his third-round match due to a wrist injury.
Djokovic leads the all-time series against Nadal 29-26, which includes victories in 10 of their past 13 meetings. They’ve only played each other once in 2020, a match that Djokovic won 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) at the ATP Cup on Jan. 12. And although Djokovic won their last meeting at Roland Garros in 2015, Nadal won the six previous French Open matchups between the two.
Djokovic may be one of only two men to own a Roland Garros victory against Nadal, but they’ve never played this late in the tournament. And when the French Open reaches this point, Nadal has been unbeatable. He’s 13-0 in semifinal matchups (after beating Diego Schwartzman on Friday) and 12-0 in the finals. The ATP Tour also broke down Nadal’s dominance in a recent tweet:
ATP Media Info @ATPMediaInfo
By the Numbers: @RafaelNadal at #RolandGarros
1,919-962 in Games (.666)
296-27 in Sets (.916)
99-2 in Matches (.980)
39-Match Win Streak (2010-15)
38-Set Win Streak (2016-18)
31-0 to Begin Career
26-1 vs Top 10
19 Sets Won 6-0
6-1 vs No 1
2-0 in 5th Sets
Djokovic should give Nadal a competitive match, but don’t expect Nadal’s Roland Garros dominance to come to an end. The prediction here is that Nadal claims the French Open title and moves into a tie with Roger Federer for the most all-time Grand Slam championships with 20.
While Nadal has breezed through this year’s tournament without losing a set, Djokovic has been tested. In the semifinals, Djokovic held on for a 6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 4-6, 6-1 win over Stefanos Tsitsipas. And the 33-year-old Serb needs to play his best in order to beat Nadal on clay.
That’s still not going to be enough, though, as Nadal, who is 17-7 against Djokovic on clay, will continue his sensational play. This year’s French Open may have been unorthodox, getting postponed to the fall due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s going to end with the familiar sight of Nadal celebrating a title win.
Prediction: Nadal wins in four sets