After two action-packed weeks of tennis at Roland Garros, viewers will be treated to a dream matchup on the final day of the 2014 French Open as arch-rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic meet for the 42nd time in eight years.
But while the oddsmakers like Djokovic to win his first French Open title and secure the career Grand Slam this weekend, Nadal is an unthinkable 65-1 for his career on the Paris clay and is one win away from a ninth French Open men's championship.
Below we'll get you ready with everything you need to know for Sunday's highly anticipated showdown.
When: Sunday, June 8
Start Time: 9 a.m. ET
Where: Court Philippe Chatrier, Roland Garros in Paris
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
|Date||Event||Coverage (ET)||TV||Live Stream|
|Sun, June 8||Men's Final||9 a.m. - 3 p.m.||NBC||NBC Sports Live Extra|
Sunday's matchup between the top-seeded Nadal and the favored Djokovic not only marks the 12th time the two rivals have met on the Grand Slam stage but the seventh time the two will play for a major championship.
Although Djokovic has taken three of their previous six Grand Slam final meetings, he's 0-5 all-time against Nadal at Roland Garros, taking a combined three sets off the Spaniard over the course of those meetings.
But after years of misery, Djokovic is in position to end his drought and make history, as noted by Twitter's Chris Skelton:
Nobody ever has won three straight clay finals from Nadal (Djokovic won both that they played in 2013-14).— Chris Skelton (@ChrisSkelton87) June 6, 2014
While the head-to-head and the surface clearly favor Nadal, Djokovic will have the psychological advantage, having defeated Nadal in each of their past four matchups dating back to 2013.
What's more, Djokovic's most recent victory over the King of Clay came on his preferred surface in the final of the Rome Masters last month.
Nadal explained the significance after his semifinal win on Friday, per ESPN.com's Greg Garber:
So probably he will come to the match mentally a little bit better than me because he beat me the last four. But at the same time, my feeling is I am doing the things better and I am playing better again, so that's a positive feeling for me. But it's true that he defeated me four times in a row. This will have an impact, but I hope it will not be too big of an impact.
Given Djokovic's recent performances against Nadal and the fact he's getting closer to beating him in Paris (lost in four sets in 2012 final and lost in five sets in 2013 semifinal), one could easily argue that Nadal's reign at Roland Garros is set to come to an end.
Men's Final Prediction
Sunday's final has instant classic written all over it. Regardless of which player comes out on top, viewers will be the biggest winners this weekend.
There's a strong case to be made for each contender. Nadal's argument is simple. He's won a record eight French Open titles already and has lost only one match at this tournament since making his debut in 2005.
How many sets will Nadal and Djokovic need to determine a winner?
So, if Djokovic is going to win, he'll likely need some assistance from Mother Nature. And with thunderstorms likely on Sunday, it's possible he'll receive just that.
In warm, dry conditions, Nadal is almost impossible to beat at the French Open, where his heavy topspin forehand bounces high off the court and gives opponents nightmares.
With conditions likely to be very different from what they were on Friday, watch for Djokovic to be aggressive against Nadal's forehand and attack early and often.
But while Djokovic possesses the athleticism and all-around game to defeat Nadal on any surface, defeating the world No. 1 at Roland Garros will require an unimaginable level of focus and will.
Therefore, until the eight-time champion is dethroned in Paris, he'll remain the popular pick to win it all.
Prediction: (1) Rafael Nadal def. (2) Novak Djokovic; 6-4, 5-7, 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4
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