If Rafael Nadal defeats Novak Djokovic in the men’s French Open final, it will be Nadal’s seventh championship at Roland Garros. He would pass Bjorn Borg for the men’s record, something he privately covets, according to Christopher Clarey of the New York Times.
“Rafael Nadal doesn’t like talking about history too much, but I can guarantee you that if he does this, it will mean the world to him,” Clarey told Bill Littlefield on Only A Game. “I think he’s very much the favorite, despite the great player he’s going to face in that final.”
If Djokovic wins, he’ll be the first man in 43 years to win four straight Grand Slam titles, so this final may be tennis’s version of “irresistable force vs. immovable object.”
“I think that’s what we’re looking at here,” Clarey said. “It certainly was the case in Australia when they played the first Grand Slam final of the year, and it almost lasted six hours. They couldn’t even stand up for the awards ceremonny after because they were so tired … based on their history, this could be a long one and a classic.”
When Roger Federer beat Adrian Unger last week, he passed Jimmy Connors for the most number of Grand Slam matches won. While it’s fair to ask how many more matches Federer will win, Clarey said the more important question is how many more Grand Slam tournaments Federer will win.
“It’s been over two years since he won one,” Clarey said. “He’s a guy whose won 16 Grand Slam titles, and I don’t think he’ll be happy as someone who’s the third man of the game, which he is right now. I think it’s too early to dismiss him. I think he’ll be a big factor on the grass at Wimbledon and at the Olympics.”