Rafael Nadal: French Open Rain Delay Is Just What Rafa Needs

Darin PikeContributor IJune 10, 2012

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 10:  Rafael Nadal of Spain plays a backhand during the men's singles final against Novak Djokovic of Serbia on day 15 of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 10, 2012 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Technically, the 2012 French Open Finals were suspended due to darkness, not rain. But the soggy surface certainly affected play and attitudes until the worlds top-two players were told play would be postponed...a move that clearly favors Rafael Nadal.

Despite Novak Djokovic being the world's No. 1 ranked player and being altogether dominating over the last 11 months, Nadal is nearly impossible to beat on clay. He entered the match 51-1 in the French Open, his only loss coming when he was having knee issues in 2009. 

Nadal opened up the 2012 finals in dominating fashion of his own, opening up a two-set lead and breaking Djokovic's serve in the third set.

Then momentum inexplicably shifted.

Djokovic went on to win the third set 6-2 and an eight-game streak had him up 2-0 in the fourth. Nadal was uncharacteristically frustrated, even throwing a rain-soaked tennis ball at a supervisor at one point. 

The "King of Clay" needed to collect himself if he was going to win a record seventh title at Roland Garros and break his tie with Bjorn Borg who won six French Open titles.

Nadal finally held serve, only to have the tournament referee Stefan Fransson stop play.

"You made us play for an hour in this rain, why stop now?" Nadal quipped sarcastically per an ESPN.com report. "Always the same with you, you never take one position."

There has not been a report that Nadal's well-established knee issues were a factor in Djokovic's surge. However, with play possibly suspended until Tuesday due to expected heavy rain tomorrow, the rest should allow Nadal to address any swelling and pain concerns.

A bigger factor will be resuming play on a more traditional clay surface.

Nadal relies on his aggressive topspin to keep opponents on the defensive, particularly on clay. Soggy balls don't spin as well and don't react off the clay like a dry ball.

When play resumes, Djokovic will have the serve, but he trails 4-6, 3-6, 6-2, 2-1. Nadal should have rested knees and hopefully dryer clay on which to work.

Nadal will still end Djoker's attempt at a fourth-consecutive major victory...it will just take a little longer than anticipated.