Novak Djokovic lost all the edge he had over Rafael Nadal in less than a year in terms of psychological warfare. Rafael Nadal, on the clay courts of Paris, is simply impossible to beat. He needed two days and four sets to set a new record at the Roland Garros, winning his 7th French Open, leaving Bjorn Borg behind him.
Rain played a huge part in the match and the shifting momentum over the Sunday-Monday final. Nadal looked simply perfect in the first two sets, taking them 6-4, 6-3. Nadal looked the same way he had since the tournament in Madrid – pretty much unbeatable on Clay. Too difficult to take away a point from. At times, it seemed like Djokovic had no idea as to what to do.
But a long break changed everything, and Novak Djokovic came back into the third set composed and more importantly, serving well. He started pushing Nadal back and was finally accurate enough with his forehand to put Nadal on his heels instead of his toes. In his first ever French Open final, on the verge of losing his chance to complete the career and calender Grand Slam, Djokovic fired away to a 6-2 victory.
But as the fourth set began going in his favor, another rain break halted the final for the day. When they returned, Nadal was once again in control, dominating en route to a 7-5 victory in the fourth set, and the beginning of his celebration with his family and other celebs, like Pau Gasol, enjoying his long summer break.
Nadal took another step towards Roger Federer on the Grand Slam list with 11, but if the French Open is the only place he can actually beat Djokovic, then getting to 16 might be impossible. It also might be impossible to actually touch the record he’ll finish with on the Paris clay courts. At 26, it’s hard to think this was the last time he’ll be lifting that trophy.
Novak Djokovic will now take a week off before heading off to Wimbledon, where he had a fantastic tournament last year. He learned that whatever edge he has over Nadal with his shot making and ability to turn defense into offense, it doesn’t stand with a healthy and confident Rafa on clay and especially at Paris. However, on grass, things might be a bit different if they both reach the final for a second consecutive year.
For Nadal, it’s taking this state of mind that he’s in and carrying on with it into Halle and then Wimbledon. Feeling unbeatable, untouchable, unreachable, both on Clay and hopefully for him, once again on the faster surfaces as well.