The French Open has been dominated by Rafael Nadal for a decade, but this year a new champion will be crowned for only the second time since 2005 as No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 8 Stan Wawrinka clash Sunday at Roland Garros.
Djoker is a French Open title away from completing the career Grand Slam, while Wawrinka is looking to win a major championship for the second year in a row after taking the Australian Open in 2014. There is no question that Nole will be a heavy favorite, but his Swiss opponent continues to make a case for being an elite player.
As Djokovic and Wawrinka prepare to lock horns on the big stage at Court Philippe Chatrier, here is a complete breakdown of the 2015 French Open final, along with all the information you need to watch it.
Where: Stade Roland Garros in Paris
When: Sunday, June 7 at 9 a.m. ET
Breaking Down Novak Djokovic
Djokovic has come close to winning the French Open on several occasions. He was a finalist in 2012 and 2014, but he was stymied by Nadal each time. Djoker was finally able to get past that hurdle by beating Rafa in the quarters, though, and he now has his best chance ever to win a title at Roland Garros.
If the eight-time Grand Slam champion is going to get the job done, he'll need to do it on a quick turnaround as his semifinal meeting with Andy Murray spanned five sets over two days. Djokovic was ultimately able to come out on top Saturday, but one can only assume that he's a bit spent physically.
With that said, perhaps no player in the world is better conditioned than Djoker. That was clear in the fifth set of his match against Murray as he crushed him 6-1 to progress to the final. According to Tumaini Carayol of Eurosport, dominance has been commonplace for Djokovic in deciding sets this year:
It would have been easy for Nole to wilt in the fifth set against Murray since he dropped the third and fourth sets after taking an easy two-set lead. Rather than allowing the negative momentum to continue, though, he seemingly flipped a switch.
Per Carole Bouchard of The Yellow Ball Corner, nobody is better than Djoker at overcoming adversity:
While Djokovic will be heavily favored against Wawrinka despite his marathon match against Murray, resiliency will be key. Wawrinka had an extra day of rest, and that can make a big difference in a long tournament like the French Open.
Djoker seemed to acknowledge after the Murray match that he threw everything he had at his opponent, but he fully intends to empty the tank once again in the final, according to Hannah Wilks of Live-Tennis.com: "Whatever I have left in me, I will put out on court tomorrow, and hopefully it will be enough."
Some might feel as though Djoker has already gotten past his biggest challengers in Nadal and Murray, but he certainly can't afford to think that way since Wawrinka has proven capable of toppling some of the best players in the world.
Wawrinka beat Djokovic at the 2014 Australian Open, so it is highly unlikely that Nole will overlook his opponent Sunday.
Breaking Down Stan Wawrinka
It can be argued that Wawrinka had an easier road to the final than Djokovic, as the latter had to go through Nadal and Murray to get to this point, but Wawrinka didn't exactly enjoy a walk in the park. He earned his way into the ultimate match at the French Open, and the fact that he's there means that he has a fighting chance.
Wawrinka was ousted in the first round last year at Roland Garros and had never advanced past the quarterfinals, so there weren't huge expectations hanging over him. In fact, even the 30-year-old veteran himself is taken aback by how well he has performed, according to Roland Garros on Twitter:
His signature win of the tournament thus far came in the quarterfinals when he easily dispatched Swiss countryman Roger Federer in straight sets. It seemed as though everything was set up for Fed to reach the final, but Wawrinka took the script, crumpled it up and threw it in the trash.
Wawrinka also scored wins over a pair of Frenchman as he beat Gilles Simon in the fourth round and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semis. The partisan crowd was very much against him in both matches, but he was able to block it out and rise to the occasion.
Now that all of the French players are out, it is reasonable to expect the crowd to back Wawrinka in the final. He has earned their respect to some degree, and they also have a penchant for cheering on the underdog.
Even though the odds are seemingly stacked against Wawrinka since Djokovic is the best player in the world and has only lost twice this season, he possesses a skill set that could give the Serbian favorite some problems.
As pointed out by Christopher Clarey of the New York Times, Wawrinka has a cracking serve that could help him avoid getting caught up in marathon points:
Although he faced 17 break points in his four-set win over Tsonga, Wawrinka saved 16 of them due largely to the power and placement of his serve. If he can be equally clutch against Djoker, then he will be tough to beat.
Also, while Wawrinka may be surprised at how well he is playing, he isn't lacking in terms of confidence, per Jack Han of the ATP World Tour website: "My game, when I play my best, I know I can beat any player."
Since Djokovic had to complete his semifinal match against Murray on Saturday, he won't have the benefit of a full day of rest. That plays into Wawrinka's favor, and it could be an equalizing factor.
Provided Wawrinka is the fresher of the two players and he plays to his potential, he has a legitimate chance to win the second Grand Slam title of his career.
While many of the French Open finals since 2005 have been great in terms of star power, most of them have felt fairly predictable due to Nadal's dominance. Rafa isn't in the fold this time around, yet that feeling persists.
Wawrinka has done enough since the start of the 2014 season to warrant a great deal of respect, but the fact remains that Djoker is the best player in the world, and he is on a mission to complete a puzzle with a French Open title being the only missing piece.
Also, if Nole is able to win Sunday, then he will have accomplished the first half of the 2015 Grand Slam by taking both the Australian Open and French Open titles.
Djokovic is one of the all-time greats, and he won't let a golden opportunity slip through his grasp, especially against an opponent who hasn't traditionally been great on clay.
Roland Garros should play host to Djoker's crowning moment Sunday, and he'll get the job done in straight sets.
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