Jerome Manson is a sports enthusiast who enjoys both watching games and writing about them. When he is not cheering on his team from the stands, Jerome is blogging about the professional tennis for selectaticket.com.
Rafael Nadal has only yielded the French Open once since 2005. After losing to Robin Soderling in the 4th round, his then-32 match streak without a loss ended on the clay courts at Roland Garros. To this point that has been Nadal’s only loss in his entire career at the French Open – he is 52-1 overall. While some question if Nadal’s knees can hold up for 2013, they shouldn’t. His record so far in 2013 is 17-1, and while he did not compete in the 2013 Australian Open because of a stomach bug, he has shown success against formidable opponents thus far. While Nadal makes his way back to defend another French Open title, Novak Djokovic continues to reign supreme in men’s singles. What happens when Nadal, an immovable object on clay, meets an unstoppable force like Djokovic?
Djokovic took down Andy Murray to win the 2013 Australian Open in late January. Talk of Djokovic matching Rod Laver and winning each Grand Slam tournament in a single year prompted one to wonder if he’d be able to down Nadal at Roland Garros and Federer at Wimbledon – either of which are difficult mountains to even consider climbing. He lost against Nadal last year in the final of the 2012 French Open then lost to Federer in the semi-finals in London. It is much clearer that Federer has relaxed his hold on Wimbledon, but it’s hard to say he isn’t the favorite (assuming he is healthy) while vying for his 8th Wimbledon title. Judging by Nadal’s seeming ascension back to the top of his game after a 7-month layoff in 2012 and he should again be ready for his 8th French Open title.
While Nadal and Federer look to assert dominance over their historically-dominated tournaments, Djokovic is the hottest player in the world right now. While signs pointed to Andy Murray making a run at #1 after beating Djokovic in the final at the 2012 US Open, Djokovic derailed those questions after taking down Murray in the finale of the 2013 Australian Open, 6-7,7-6, 6-3, 6-2. Through the first quarter of 2013 men singles play, Djokovic has beaten Murray, Berdych, del Potro, Tsonga, and David Ferrer. He hasn’t faced Federer or Nadal yet in 2013, but with Murrary moving to #2 and Ferrer jumping ahead of Nadal to #4, Djokovic has beaten most of the other top men’s players. The next couple months will be the ultimate test for the number 1 player in the ATP.
I predict that Djokovic will beat Nadal in the 2013 French Open. The match will go 5 sets (tennis fans wouldn’t have it any other way), and Djokovic will eek out the victory for his second major tournament victory in 2013. Nadal will not go down quietly, but for some reason I just think that it is Djokovic’s time. It’s difficult to remember a player that gets so “up” for these Grand Slams and there is some aura around Djokovic’s game that emits dominance, even against the other “Big Four.” If Djokovic can triumph at Roland Garros, there is no question he can match up to Laver’s four wins in 1969. The 2013 French Open may prove to be his toughest test, and don’t be surprised if Nadal controls the clay once again.