My internet crapped out last night.. Better late than never.
Tomorrow morning at 7 am EDT, the two top players in the world will face off in the French Open semifinals. The players barely need any introduction. Novak Djokovic, number one player in the world, looking for the Career Slam against Rafael Nadal, winner of 7 French Open titles and the best clay court player of all time. When the draw made everyone looked to this match, and while it's only the semifinal, realistically, it's the final, and the winner would be a heavy favorite over either Tsonga or Ferrer. After the jump, we'll preview this match and see who has the edge in each area of the game.
Nadal's forehand might not be the best shot in tennis, but it's the most devastating clay court shot of all time. The high kick he's able to achieve keeps his opponents off balance and on their back foot. Djokovic's forehand is very solid, and he's capable of hitting winners off it, but Nadal's forehand is his best shot, and he's capable of some amazing shots
Djokovic's backhand is the best shot in the game today. He can do anything he wants with it, and it's the shot that's given him so much success over Nadal in the past. If he's going to win this match, it has to be perfect, and for most players that's an impossibility, but Djokovic is very capable of taking over matches with his backhand
Neither player uses their serve as a huge weapon, but they both do an excellent job of constructing points and using their serve to accomplish that. Nadal uses his serve to push the opponents back and pound away. Djokovic has a bit more pop on his serve, and he's capable of more aces, but he too uses it to set up his relentless groundstrokes. Djokovic has the edge here, but neither player can take over matches with their serve.
On hard courts, Djokovic's movement is the best in the world. On clay, it's clearly Nadal. Every match Nadal makes some unbelievable gets, and it takes multiple would-be winners to actually put him away. What's important is that Djokovic's movement is also very good, and he can get to many of Nadal's shots that others can't. Still, Nadal is the King of Clay for a reason, and a huge part is his unbelievable movement.
Nadal's 7 French Open titles vs. Djokovic's superior head to head over the past two and a half years. Nadal's recovery from his knee injury vs the death of Djokovic’s first coach. There are so many different variables going into this match, and on those variable this match will turn.
This is going to be another epic match between the two best players in the world. Djokovic can beat him, but Nadal is Nadal. Nadal in 5.