Novak Djokovic targeting rare 51-year feat

The race to equal Roger Federer’s record of 20 grand slam singles titles comes to a head at the French Open men’s final on Sunday.

After two weeks of enthralling tennis in Paris, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and clay master Rafael Nadal will compete for the coveted Roland Garros title at Court Philippe Chatrier.

It will be the 56th time the powerhouses face off in professional tennis, 29 of which Djokovic has won.

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Nadal’s record in the French Open is undeniably staggering — with a record 12 Roland Garros titles to him name, the Spanish superstar has registered 99 wins and just two losses since his maiden grand slam victory in 2005.

But the 34-year-old is not only playing for a century of French Open wins tonight.

Nadal has claimed 19 grand slam singles titles to date, ranking him at second on the all-time list behind Federer, who has 20.

“I don’t think this is the biggest match that I have ever played in my life,” Nadal said.

“In terms of importance, probably the first Wimbledon final that I actually played against him.

“Wimbledon was always the one that I wanted to win as a kid and dreamt of winning. That’s probably the one that stands out.”

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic.Source:AFP

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Meanwhile, Djokovic is eyeing his second grand slam victory of the calendar year after winning the Australian Open in February.

The Serbian will be seething after his shock exit from the US Open last month, and now has the potential to close the gap between himself and Federer to just two major titles.

With the exception of his self-inflicted loss in New York, Djokovic is undefeated in 37 matches this year.

Djokovic would also become the third man to win each grand slam tournament twice if he defeats Nadal — Australian legend Rod Laver was the most recent male player to achieve the rare feat in 1969.

“The conditions are different than the ones that we are used to playing in May and June,” Djokovic said.

“I think that could be a better chance for me, obviously the ball is not bouncing as high over the shoulder as he likes it usually.”

The match is scheduled to commence at 12am on Monday morning, and will be shown on SBS.

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