Paris, Oct 9 (efe-epa).- The men’s final at the French Open will feature everybody’s dream match-up: a battle between world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and second-ranked Rafael Nadal.
While the Spanish “king of clay” got past Diego Schwartzman in three sets, the Serb needed five sets to vanquish 22-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Nadal will be seeking a record-extending 13th French Open title and a 20th major tournament victory overall, which would bring him level with Swiss great Roger Federer.
For Djokovic, whose 17 major titles include multiple wins in the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, the goal is to hoist the French Open trophy for a second time.
The Spaniard and the Serb have met on seven previous occasions at the French Open and Nadal emerged on top six times, including the 2012 and 2014 finals.
Djokovic’s only success against Nadal at Roland Garros came in a quarterfinal in 2015.
But Nadal, 34, minimized that history as he looked ahead to Sunday’s final.
“Different circumstances, different kind of tournament and different situation,” he said at a press conference.
“I can’t predict the future,” Nadal said, “The only thing I know is to play against Novak, I need to play my best. Without playing my best tennis, the situation is very difficult.”
His rival, unsurprisingly, labeled Nadal the clear favorite.
“This is the house of Rafa,” the 33-year-old Djokovic said. “I will have the motivation to win, I beat him here in 2015, but this will be the biggest challenge – playing Nadal on clay.”
Nadal defeated Argentina’s Schwartzman 6-3, 6-3, 7-6(0) and – for the sixth time – heads into the final at Roland Garros without dropping a set in the tournament.
His stats at the French Open are exceptional. He has won 99 of 101 matches in the competition, but was forced to dig deep against Schwartzman, who was victorious in the pair’s previous meeting back at the Italian Open in September.
“He’s one of the guys who makes more breaks on the tour. I expected a very tough match,” Nadal said afterward.
It was the Argentine’s first time in a Grand Slam semifinal and he left the court with his head held high.
Although yet to win a trophy, Schwartzman, 28, will for the first time in his career enter the top 10 of the world rankings and by Monday should be in eighth place, a cherry on top of the cake of an ascendant season for the player.
It took the Spaniard 66 minutes to bag the first set against Schwartzman.
The Argentine pushed back in the final set and forced a tie-break, which Nadal went on to win in six straight games as Schwartzman hurt himself with unforced errors.
Djokovic took the first set against Tsitsipas 6-3 in just 42 minutes, rolled 6-2 in the second and had a chance to win the match on serve at 5-4 in the third.
Instead, Tsitsipas saved the match point and broke Djokovic, going on to win the set 5-7.