Rafael Nadal Back in Elite Form Heading into French Open 2013 Finals

Mike Hoag@MikeHoagJrCorrespondent IIJune 8, 2013

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 07:  Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates match point in the men's singles semi-final match against Novak Djokovic of Serbia on day thirteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 7, 2013 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal proved he is back at the top of his game after a marathon win over Novak Djokovic in the 2013 French Open semifinals.

Nadal was dominant at times against the ATP’s top-ranked player in the world. However, it took a break of his opponent’s serve in the eighth game of the fifth set for the Spanish giant to avoid losing just his second match ever at the French Open.

The win is a true testament to the heights Nadal has risen to after being handed the third seed at his tournament.

That classic semifinals match against Djokovic was a battle of pure will and determination. It ran over four hours and was the first five-setter Nadal has participated in since his return from an ACL injury that sidelined him for seven months. It was also just the second five-set match he has ever played in at Roland Garros.

Any questions about his durability and stamina can surely be thrown out the window for the finals, although the lengthy matchup against Nole may have taken its toll on the king of clay.

His rest will be the key if he hopes to continue playing at such a high level in the finals on Sunday.

After knocking off the top seed, though, he is now in a perfect position to capture his eighth Roland Garros crown in nine career attempts. A win would bring him up to par with Frenchman Max Decugis, who holds eight titles—the record for most wins in tournament history albeit before the start of the Open era.

Is there anyone who doubts he will accomplish that remarkable feat on Sunday?

While at the top of his game there is no one, not even fellow countryman David Ferrer, who can stand in his way of adding another French Open title to his trophy case.

Nadal has slipped up to Ferrer in the past, although he has had plenty of experience to draw from while preparing for his final test.

He also has a commanding 16-1 record against the Spaniard on clay, including two straight-set victories over him on the clay courts of the French Open.