Nadal vs Djokovic Roland Garros 2013 semi-final preview

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Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic French Open 2013 semi-final – 1pm Paris time – Court Philipp Chatrier

Ever since Rafael Nadal‘s return to the circuit in February, there had been concerns how his ranking may effect the draw at the French Open. While he would eventually secure a place in the top four, avoiding a likely meeting with three of the top players to take the title, it was still possible for him to draw Novak Djokovic in a match which many see as the de facto final with two considerably weaker players contesting the other final.

Both players have been shaky at times.Although winning in straight sets Djokovic was troubled by David Goffin in round one and would lose a set to Philipp Kohlschreiber in the fourth round. Most notably for Nadal was in the first round against an inspired Daniel Brands who found himself 3-0 up in a second set tie break with a set already in the bag. Martin Klizan also took a set while Fabio Fognini served for one. Nadal was much improved in the past two rounds, making light work of Kei Nishikori and Stanislas Wawrinka for the lost of just 14 games in total.

Nadal’s Run To The Semi Final

QF def. Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2 6-3 6-1 
4R def. Kei Nishikori 6-4 6-1 6-3
3R def. Fabio Fognini 7-6(5) 6-4 6-4
2R def. Martin Klizan 4-6 6-3 6-3 6-3 
1R def. Daniel Brands 4-6 7-6(4) 6-4 6-3 

Djokovic’s Run To The Semi Final

QF def. Tommy Haas 6-3 7-6(5) 7-5 
4R def. Philipp Kohlschreiber 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-4
3R def. Grigor Dimitrov 6-2 6-2 6-3
2R def. Guido Pella 6-2 6-0 6-2 
1R  def. David Goffin 7-6(5) 6-4 7-5 

Head to Head

Rafael Nadal leads 19-15
Rafael Nadal leads 12-3 on clay
Novak Djokovic leads 1-0 in 2013 (Monte Carlo 6-2 7-6(1))

Despite Nadal going 37-2 since his return, many believe that he is more vulnerable than ever after the Monte Carlo final despite the clay head to head still heavily in Nadal’s favour. With Djokovic losing early in Madrid and Rome Nadal has yet to have a chance to avenge the defeat that ended is lengthy winning streak in Paris. Given the mental toughness of Nadal, it is hard to agree with the idea that Djokovic holds the mental advantage over the Spaniard on the basis of one comfortable win this year after Nadal won the last three meetings on the clay for the loss of just one set – in the French Open final last year.

The matchup isn’t one that Nadal dominates anymore though, with Djokovic more tactically aware and able to go toe to toe from the baseline with Nadal while is defensive capabilities are well up there. What you can expect is a extremely hard fought encounter between two extraordinary athletes with countless gruelling rallies. It’s a shame that this has ended up being the semi final but the intensity levels won’t be any lower for probably the most interesting of the big four rivalries on the tour currently.

Prediction

Nadal in 4

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