Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews day 15 of the 2020 French Open.
Here we go again for our 56th rodeo.
Top-seed Novak Djokovic and second-seed Rafael Nadal will compete for the Coupe des Mousquetaires and the 2020 Roland-Garros title on day 15 of this year’s event, an absurd 56th matchup in this storied rivalry that the Serb leads 29-26.
Are you excited yet?
Because the stakes, as the kids would say, couldn’t be higher.
56 Times and Counting
On one side stands Djokovic, who would grab an 18th major title to bring himself one closer to Nadal and Roger Federer as well as a second Roland-Garros win against the man who still only has 2 losses at the event. It would also, perhaps most important of all, give Djokovic a double career Grand Slam and a double of what writer Ben Rothenberg has dubbed the Djokémon: winning all majors, the ATP Tour Finals as well as every Masters 1000 event twice over.
In other words, if he can just win this men’s final, then Djokovic will have won every important event on the tennis calendar at least twice when nobody else has done it even once.
????Novak Djokovic career Slams, Masters, WTFs????
One French Open title from reaching #Djokémon Gen II.
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) September 21, 2020
Standing on the other side of the Court Philippe Chatrier net will be Nadal, who’s become used to the scenery by now. A win would give the Spaniard a lucky unlucky 13th career French Open triumph and would bring him levelled with Federer at 20 total majors. Just for good measure, the win would also give Nadal a nice 100 career French Open wins (against only two losses) and bring his record in the Roland-Garros finals against his two biggest rivals to a stellar 7-0.
That’s all, folks. There ain’t nothing more to it, it’s just a good, regular ole tennis match like any other one we’ve watched countless times.
Well, not countless times. Just 55 other times.
Find below our prediction for how this specific men’s singles final will unfold. You can also see the full day 15 schedule here.
Court Philippe Chatrier: Novak Djokovic  vs Rafael Nadal  (3pm local start time)
You want to think that the weather conditions will play a factor in determining a winner in this men’s singles final, but that’s probably grasping at straws. The reality is that regardless of the playing conditions, overcoming Nadal on his favourite surface is daunting and just about impossible—or at the very least, improbable.
When you’re playing Nadal on clay and you’re worried about whether it’s warm or cold outside, then you may be missing the forest for the trees: the critical part of this equation isn’t the weather, but the fact that you’re stuck playing Nadal on his best surface.
The pair may have split their previous 10 clay court matches an even 5-5 but the odds are stacked in Djokovic’s favour. To win, the Serb will probably need to be flawless while the Spaniard will merely need to be great. When the margins are this small, let’s roll with the easier choice. Nadal gets the win in four sets.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG