The revolution didn’t last long.
Less than a month after Dominic Thiem snapped the three-year ‘Big Three’ Grand Slam win streak at the US Open, Novak Djokovic, 33, and Rafael Nadal, 34, ensured a 57th major title would be added to the group’s collection by advancing to the final of the French Open.
This one – their 56th meeting – holds historical significance for both.
Nadal can equal Federer’s record of 20 men’s singles titles if he wins his 100th match on the Parisian clay on Sunday.
Djokovic can become the first man in the Open Era to win each Grand Slam event twice or more and move within one Slam win of Nadal.
Nadal, of course, already holds the record for most singles titles held in these parts and has only suffered two defeats at Roland Garros.
Most men’s Grand Slam titles won
20 – Federer
19 – Nadal
17 – Djokovic
14 – Sampras
One of those came at the hands of his French Open final opponent, while Djokovic is one of two men – along with John Isner – to even take the world No. 2 from Spain to five sets.
But while Nadal’s record is ominous, so too is Djokovic’s form in 2020.
One US Open disqualification aside, the world No. 1 from Serbia has not lost a single match this season.
Any questions of that remarkable incident in New York – where he was defaulted from his fourth-round match against Pablo Carreno Busta by hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball struck in anger – knocking him off course have been swiftly swept aside. He has won 11 matches on the spin since, all on clay.
Conditions, in theory, should favour top seed Djokovic but despite Nadal’s complaints about the cool temperatures and heavy balls, he is the one who arrives in the final having not dropped a set.
Djokovic has stuttered in the last two rounds. Questions of his physical condition arose when he arrived with tape on his neck and required treatment on his arm against Carreno Busta in the quarter-finals, while what looked like a routine straight sets win over Stefanos Tsitsipas was dragged out into a five-set epic on Friday night.
There are conflicting opinions on how Djokovic’s encounter with Tsitsipas will affect the mood heading into the final.
Mats Wilander, the seven-time Grand Slam champion from Sweden told Eurosport: ‘He could have put this match away in three sets and didn’t do it. A match like this will add just a little bit for Novak in the final.
Rafael Nadal route to French Open final
R1: 6-4 6-4 6-2 Gerasimov
R2: 6-1 6-0 6-3 McDonald
R3: 6-1 6-4 6-0 Travaglia
R4: 6-1 6-1 6-2 Korda
QF: 7-6 6-4 6-1 Sinner
SF: 6-3 6-3 7-6 Schwartzman
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