Favoured French Final - Rafa and the Joker

Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images
Rafa and the Joker meet for the 42nd time. Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images

This is what the fans were hoping for and the two best players in the world were gunning for - Rafael Nadal  and Novak Djokovic  to slug it out in the French Open Final.

Nadal is chasing championship No. 9 at Roland Garros, and his 14th major title overall. Djokovic is hoping to finally conquer the French Open and complete a career Grand Slam. Fittingly, whoever wins the 42nd head-to-head red clay stoush will be ranked No. 1.

In the semis, the 'king of clay' was ruthless in a 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 victory over Wimbledon champion Andy Murray that lasted just over one and half hours. Nadal never faced a break point, converted all six he earned, and whipped his lethal forehand as only he can.

The Joker's semi-final was almost as impressive - a 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory over 18th-seeded Ernests Gulbis of Latvia. Djokovic has made no secret of the importance he places on a French Open title to add to the six majors he's won - four at the Australian Open, one each at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

No two men in the Open era have faced each other as often as these two. Nadal leads 22-19 overall, 8-3 at majors, and 5-0 at Roland Garros; including victories over Djokovic in the 2012 final and 2013 semifinals.

But Djokovic won their last four matchups, including on clay in the final at Rome last month, which the Serb said boosted his belief in himself.

Rafa will have his recent back problems in the back of his mind and the fact he's lost three times on clay in 2014. But at the French Open the super Spanaird's record is 65-1. Will it be 66-1 come Sunday night?


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