Nadal vs Djokovic: What Djokovic Must Do to Overcome Rafael Nadal

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Nadal vs Djokovic: What Djokovic Must Do to Overcome Rafael Nadal
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal has been near-perfect in the 2012 French Open, not surprising given, well, he's won six of the seven French Opens he has appeared in.

On the other end of the court in the final will be Novak Djokovic, who hopes to become the first player in 43 years to win four consecutive Grand Slam titles.

Nadal has not lost a set in the French Open this year. He actually won a point against David Ferrer in the semifinals while sitting down. He cruised to a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 victory.

Djokovic just beat an underwhelming Roger Federer in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5, 6-3. This came after a come-from-behind victory against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semifinals.

Many people are saying it's a foregone conclusion that Nadal will win his seventh French Open title, but Djokovic has beaten Nadal 14 times in 32 head-to-head meetings, most recently at the 2012 Australian Open. He certainly has a chance.

Here's what Djokovic must do to defeat Nadal in the 2012 French Open.


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Djokovic is one of the best defenders in tennis, if not the best. He gets to balls few players would dream of, and a lot of times he returns these balls spectacularly. Nadal is 11-2 all-time against Djokovic on clay. He's likely going to make some amazing shots in this match. However, Djokovic has the potential to get in Nadal's head if he continues to return these shots. It's not just about defense in tennis; it's about winning the mental game. Nadal is sky-high leading up to the final, but a good start from Djokovic could turn the tide.


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Djokovic's backhand is the best in tennis, hands down. He not only can put surprising zip on his backhand shots, but he hits ridiculous drop shots and slices with his off hand. He's frustrated Nadal with his backhand before, and there's no reason he can't this time around. He hasn't looked as good as last year, but he still has the potential to steal more than a few points from Nadal.


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Both Djokovic and Nadal are tremendously fit. Djokovic has to be ready to go to war, because this match is likely to be a long one. You know Nadal's ready to make his mark at Roland Garros once again. Djokovic also has great agility and court coverage. That will be critical because there will likely be times when he has to run line to line with Nadal on his game. He must push forward when his legs are all but gone.

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