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Nadal vs. Djokovic: French Open Semifinals Will Determine Tournament Champion

June 11, 2012; Paris, FRANCE; Novak Djokovic (SRB), left, and Rafael Nadal (ESP) greet each other after receiving their awards after the men's singles finals of the 2012 French Open at Roland Garros.  Nadal won 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5. Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports
Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports
Mike HoagCorrespondent IIJune 6, 2013

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are competing for the rights to go to, and win, the 2013 French Open Final.

We knew this could happen.

After the Roland Garros draw was announced, we foresaw a semifinals clash between Nadal and Djokovic.

Last year we were treated to this very same matchup with the tournament crown on the line. This season’s edition won’t technically have any hardware riding on it, but it still pretty much does. Nadal took home the trophy to win his seventh title at Roland Garros after dropping just one set to his Serbian foe.

Djokovic, the world No. 1, is pitted against the French Open’s greatest champion in a matchup that will serve as the tournament’s de facto championship.

Say what you want about the merits of David Ferrer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s respective talents, neither are realistically on the verge of pulling off a shocker against either of these champions in the finals.

Tsonga has the home crowd in his corner but that won’t be enough to overcome the odds against either competitor. He does have Grand Slam victories over both Nadal and Djokovic in 2008 and 2010 respectively, but he has dropped eight of his 11 career matchups against Nadal.

That includes two previous losses on clay.

The Frenchman has been much more successful against Djokovic in the past, winning six of their 16 matchups. Four of those six victories came early in Djoker’s career and included a four-win streak for Tsonga in 2008 and ’09.

Ferrer has also had much more success against Djoker than he has against Nadal. The Spaniard has captured five wins, including three victories in four encounters on clay against the world's No. 1 male.

His countryman has been a different story. Rafa has a significant edge, especially on clay, winning 20 of their 25 matchups—his lone loss on clay came after their first meeting in Germany in 2004.

But who will come out on top between the two top stars in order to reach the actual conclusion of the tournament?

Nadal looks to be the heavy favorite against all three of the remaining competitors left in the field. If he overcomes Djokovic to reach the finals, there is little doubt about how things will play out.

Djokovic may struggle moreso but the end result will be the same.

While he has had his troubles with both Ferrer and Tsonga in the past, that’s exactly what it is—the past. He is motivated to capture his first French Open crown and, if he gets past the King of Clay, will leave nothing on the court in order to achieve a career-defining career Grand Slam.

The winner of this semifinals matchup could really go either way. Djokovic won their most recent contest on clay and has also captured three wins out of their last six matchups on the surface.

Overall, Nadal holds the series lead despite that recent slip-up in Monte Carlo, as Roland Garros pointed out on Twitter:

Nadal has cruised to this point of the French Open after dropping two sets in the opening rounds. He looks to finally be back on top of his game after those early struggles and after missing much of 2012 with a knee injury.

Whoever ends up coming away with the win, bank on a spectacular semifinal in Paris.

It will be a finish that will crown your 2013 Roland Garros champion well before it becomes a reality in the record books.

 

*Head-to-head stats were obtained from Matchstat.com

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