French Open: Rafael Nadal in bid to beat Borg’s feat of clay
The weight of history will not weigh heavily on Rafael Nadal when he walks on to Court Philippe Chatrier today for the French Open final against Novak Djokovic.
Both men have plenty more on the line than simply the Coupe des Mousquetaires, with Serbia’s Djokovic looking to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four grand slam titles at once.
Victory for world No.2 Nadal, right, meanwhile, would earn him a seventh Roland Garros crown, taking him past the record he currently shares with Bjorn Borg.
The Spaniard said: “I have the chance to break the Borg record because I have already won six. The pressure is the same every year. I am here because I try my best every day and because I have a lot of motivation, the desire to try to win the tournament, not because it’s the seventh, because it’s Roland Garros. It’s one of my top tournaments of the year, if not the most important.
“So seriously, the extra pressure for me is zero. In the end, if it finally happens, it’s going to be another thing that maybe is important, maybe not that important. For me, the important thing is Roland Garros.”
Remarkably, the two men are meeting in their fourth straight slam final, all of which have so far been won by world No.1 Djokovic. But it would be a major surprise if there was the same outcome today, for Nadal has looked supreme, destroying David Ferrer 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 in the last four.
Roger Federer described Nadal as the “overwhelming favourite”, but the man himself believes it is a closer call than that.
He said: “I don’t feel I’m the great favourite, as he said, because I’m going to play against the number one.”
Victory at the Australian Open extended Djokovic’s winning streak over Nadal to seven matches, all of them finals, but the Spaniard has won the last two, in Monte Carlo and Rome.
Nadal has also beaten Djokovic, left, in all their three previous meetings at Roland Garros, which came three years in a row from 2006.
Djokovic said: “I didn’t expect to win every match until the end of our careers against him, even though I won seven in a row.
“But I won against him on clay last year two times, back-to-back in eight days [in Madrid and Rome], and that’s something that is in the back of my mind. That’s something that can give me confidence.”
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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