Nadal vs. Djokovic: Breaking Down Supreme French Open 2012 Men's Finals

Ben LeibowitzCorrespondent IIIJune 9, 2012

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 08:  Rafael Nadal of Spain plays a forehand in his men's singles semi final match against David Ferrer of Spain during day 13 of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 8, 2012 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic will be fighting an uphill battle when he faces off with Rafael Nadal in the 2012 French Open.

Although Djokovic entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed, Nadal clearly has the advantage on clay.

Nadal will be playing for his seventh title at Roland Garros, which would put him in sole possession of the all-time record he now shares with Bjorn Borg, so there will certainly be no lack of motivation for the Spaniard.

Additionally, Nadal has beaten all of his opponents during this year’s French Open in straight sets. He’s been eviscerating everyone who stands in his path and he looks both poised and confident (as he should).

By contrast, Djokovic has had a tougher road to this year’s French Open final. He managed to grit out a five set marathon against the French native Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, who fought valiantly in the match.

Tsonga won sets two and three, and appeared poised for an upset with the home crowd behind him. After a brutal tiebreak loss in the fourth set however, he finally ran out of gas, losing the final set by the same score as the first, 6-1. (Djokovic moved on to beat Roger Federer in straight sets.)

Moreover, Djokovic didn’t exactly have an easy time disposing of 22nd-ranked Andreas Seppi, in a match that also went to five sets. There were no easy sets against Seppi either. Every set played host to nine or more games (the biggest win in a set for Djokovic was 6-3).

Despite the winding road to the final match, it’s foolish to think that Djokovic may be running on fumes at this point. He’s the No. 1-ranked player in the world for a reason and will be ready to go against Nadal in the final.

Can Novak Djokovic embrace his underdog role and upset Rafael Nadal?
Can Novak Djokovic embrace his underdog role and upset Rafael Nadal?Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

However, Nadal simply looks unbeatable at Roland Garros. His career record there now stands at 51-1, which is truly a ridiculous statistic.

For Djokovic to pull the upset, which is ironic considering he’s the higher seed in the matchup, he can’t make any mistakes.

Beating Nadal on the big stage at Roland Garros would be like winning a one-on-one game of basketball against LeBron James; the odds are simply stacked against the opponent.

Djokovic needs to play his game, but he can’t give Nadal any easy points. Djokovic will have to make Nadal work for every point in every game and will have to limit his own unforced errors.

The top-seeded Djokovic has a better chance than most at beating Nadal, but it will certainly be an arduous task to prevent the Spaniard from gaining sole possession of a record seven titles.