by: Tom Cochrane
The men’s singles final will be completed today, after rain caused the match to be suspended at an intriguing stage of proceedings on Day 14.
Day 15 Recap
In overcast, rainy conditions, Rafael Nadal jumped out of the starting blocks against Novak Djokovic, advancing to a 3-0 double break lead in the first set before the top seed managed to find his rhythm. Djokovic broke back twice to level the first set at 3 games apiece, but Nadal then got another break. That one proved to be decisive, as the Spaniard held on to the advantage to claim the opening set, 6-4.
Djokovic was making too many unforced errors to really pressure Nadal at this stage of the match, and the second set was similar to the first set, as the second seed claimed the early break only for the world number one to claw his way back. Another break in the seventh game to Nadal (which led to Djokovic hacking into his Perrier seat with his racquet), followed by a consolidation of the break on serve, game the man from Mallorca a 5-3 second set lead. Some drizzle forced the players off court momentarily, but when they returned Nadal wrapped up the second set with a sizzling cross-court backhand pass.
Only a set away from an historic seventh French Open crown, Nadal once more got an early break to lead 2-0 in the third set. But this set wouldn’t follow the pattern of the first two. Djokovic’s anger suddenly dissipated, as the Serb, seemingly resigned to defeat, opened up his shoulders and started outmuscling Nadal as the conditions got wetter and heavier.
Nadal seemed rattled by Djokovic’s stunning turnaround, the Spaniard complaining about having to play in the poor conditions. With the muddy, soggy conditions causing Nadal’s heavy topspin shots to lose much of their bite, Djokovic seized control, winning 8 games in a row to claim the third set 6-2, and take a 2-0 lead in the fourth set. Nadal finally managed to halt the streak, holding serve to trail 2-1 in the fourth set when play was abandoned for the day.
The players will return to court at 1pm local time today to resume the match. Can Djokovic maintain his incredible standard of play from the third set and push the match to a decider? Or will Nadal shrug off the third set capitulation and grind out the win? We’ll find out later today, but I’m going to stick with my prediction of Nadal in 4 sets.
That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve to wrap up the rest of the men’s final tomorrow.