Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal: 2011 French Open; Is This the Year?

Matthew AdamsContributor IIIMay 16, 2011

ROME, ITALY - MAY 15:  Novak Djokovic of Serbia holds the trophy after his victory in the final against Rafael Nadal of Spain during day eight of the Internazoinali BNL D'Italia at the Foro Italico Tennis Centre on May 15, 2011 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

When Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal (6-4, 6-4) in the finals of the Internazionali BNL d' Italia it marked the 37th consecutive match he had won this year. 

Immediately, tennis fans across the world wondered what they should expect from  Djokovic in the 2011 French Open.

In years past, it has been Roger Federer who had won an ATP Masters 1000 Series going in to the French Open. A win against Nadal on clay would give a player all of the confidence in the world that he will be able to win the French Open.

In 2007, Federer beat Nadal in the finals at Hamburg (an ATP Master 1000 Series tournament, which no longer exists); it was widely expected that Federer would go on to win Roland Garros that year. Instead Federer lost in four sets, and widely disappointed his fans.

However, Djokovic has something Federer never had while going into the French Open. Novak has beat Nadal in the finals of the last four ATP Masters 1000 Series tournaments (except for Monte-Carlo, which Djokovic did not play).

The last two wins have been on clay, a surface Nadal is supposed to dominate on; instead, Djokovic has come out and performed at a level never deemed possible against Nadal on clay.

These two past matches coupled with seven titles won this year, an Australian Open title, four ATP Master 100 series titles, and a 37-0 record this year; gives Djokovic all the confidence in the world that he will be able to finally claim a title at the French. Djokovic is also fighting for a No. 1 ranking, which is agonizingly close, a win at the French and he secures it.

False hype is often given to player year after year in the week leading up to this tournament, but right now it is clear that Djokovic is the heavy favorite to go out and win the entire tournament.

He has been playing too well to not take the title.