Sunday, June 08, 2014

2014 FRENCH OPEN: Men's Final Preview

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [2] vs Rafael Nadal (ESP) [1]
The 2014 French Open men's final will be between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Novak Djokovic of Serbia. Last year I correctly predicted Nadal would beat David Ferrer in the final. This year I correctly predicted Maria Sharapova would beat Simona Halep in the women's final. I also correctly predicted 2 of 2 women's semifinals2 of 2 men's semifinals2 of 4women's quarterfinals and 2 of 4 men's quarterfinals. After a review of the men's semifinals, here are my predictions for the men's singles championship match at Roland Garros this year.

How Did They Get Here? Men's Semifinals Review
The men's semifinals for the 2014 French Open are set. This year I correctly predicted 2 of 4 women's quarterfinals and correctly predicted 2 of 4 men's quarterfinals. I also have already made predictions for the women's semifinals. Below are my predictions for this year's men's semifinals.

Rafael Nadal (ESP) [1]  d. Andy Murray (GBR) [7] 6-3 6-2 6-1. No one expected Murray to win this match, but I did expect that the Scot would at least be able to make it competitive in moments. However, Nadal started perfectly, breaking early and holding to take a 3-0 lead and basically never looked back from there. He was perfect on breakpoints, winning 6 or 6 and did not face any breakpoints himself. Murray clearly didn't play his best tennis, but Nadal was playing at a level that it probably would not have mattered.

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [2]  d. Ernests Gulbis (LAT) [18] 6-3 6-3 3-6 6-3.  This could have been a dangerous match-up because Gulbis is most definitely a dangerous player so Djokovic did well to escape with just the loss of one set, squeezing out a break in the 8th game of the fourth set to serve out the match and reach his 2nd major final in Paris.

Who Will Win? Men's Final Preview
This final is the 42nd meeting between Nadal and Djokovic (Djokovic-Nadal XLII), a record for the most times any competitors on the ATP tour have ever faced each other in the Open era. Nadal currently leads 22-19 but Djokovic has won their last four meetings, including the very last one which was on clay in the Rome Masters final just a few weeks ago. Djokovic leads Nadal 12-9 in tour finals but Nadal leads 8-3 in grand slam matches. However, Djokovic leads 3-2 in major finals but Nadal won the last final they played, in New York. Since that loss, Djokovic has only lost 3 times, and played 60 matches.

Besides the 2014 French Open championship, which would finish the career slam for Djokovic and bring Nadal his 14th major and record 9th title in Paris, the two are competing for the World #1 ranking. Whoever wins this match will be World #1 on Monday.

Although it is incredibly hard to bet against someone who is 65-1 lifetime at the French Open I just feel that it is time for Djokovic to win and that he knows that he can beat Nadal on clay and that this is the year it will happen. I do believe that Nadal will almost certainly win a 9th (and probably a 10th) title at Roland Garros, but not this year. From looking at the statistics, Djokovic is simply playing better tennis than Nadal this year. Nadal has had more double faults (5) than aces (4) while Djokovic had many more aces (30) than double faults (10) over the first 6 rounds. Additionally, Nadal is at +24 (133 winners to 109 unforced errors) while Djokovic is at +41 (189 winners to 148 unforced errors). It's true that Nadal has only played 19 sets to Djokovic's 20 but I think that is still a measurable edge to Djokovic.

In the end it comes down to who is playing better on the day itself, and last September it was Nadal. However, you never know what can happen. In this year's Australian Open final, Nadal injured himself in the warm-up and ended up losing a major final everyone (including me) thought he would win to Stan Wawrinka. This final, most people expect Nadal to win but there are a significant contingent who are also in Djokovic's camp. Withough doubt, we do expect to see a truly great match, possibly twice as long as today's epic women's match and hopefully up to the quality of last year's semifinal match which most people are calling the best clay court match of all time. Will tomorrow's clash exceed that one? Only time will tell!

Mad Professah's pick: Djokovic in 4 sets.

1 comment:

carter said...

Watched the first 2 sets, sort of, yet realized Novak was no match for ruthless Rafa.
Best result of the tournament was the win of the French duo of Roger-Vasselin/Beaneteau in men's doubles. France has not had a RG winner in quite a while!
Long overdue!


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