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“Beatable on Clay”: Novak Djokovic Ready to Challenge Rafael Nadal at French Open 2020

“Beatable on Clay”: Novak Djokovic Ready to Challenge Rafael Nadal at French Open 2020

World No.1 Novak Djokovic was crowned the Italian Open champion for the fifth time. Djokovic defeated Diego Schwartzman in straight sets to win the final at the Foro Italico in Rome. Moreover, the Serbian improved his head-to-head record against Schwartzman to 5-0.

Djokovic won a record-breaking 36th Masters 1000 title and is one ahead of his arch-rival Rafael Nadal on the list of most ATP Masters 1000 titles won.

Despite racing to a 3-0 lead in the opening set, Schwartzman could not keep the momentum and ultimately lost, 5-7. The Argentine had ousted the defending champion, Nadal, in the quarterfinals and was playing his first ATP Masters 1000 final.

Novak Djokovic feels conditions not ideal for Nadal

During the post-match conference, Djokovic talked about Nadal being the favorite to win the French Open 2020. However, the 17-time Grand Slam champion revealed that the different conditions this year might be unfavorable for Nadal.

Rafael Nadal at Italian Open 2020
Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – Spain’s Rafael Nadal walks off after losing his quarter final match against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman Pool via REUTERS/Clive Brunskill

“It’s Nadal, even though he lost this week, a lot of people will agree that he’s the No.1 favorite. The record that he has there, the history of his results, you just can’t put anybody in front of him. But, definitely, Diego showed that Nadal is beatable on clay, the conditions that they played on, obviously heavy clay, not much bounce, humid, night session, we are going to have that as well in Paris,” said Djokovic.

The Serbian, who lost to Nadal in the 2012 and 2013 French Open finals, contended there’s going to be less bounce during the night sessions. Notably, Nadal prefers high bounce, and it helps him extract more topspin from the surface.

“Night session, under the lights, as I said, a little bit less bounce. I don’t know… I’m pretty sure that he does not prefer that to a high bounce. I know he likes the high bounce, he likes the hot and warm and fast conditions where he can use his spin a lot,” added Djokovic during the post-match interview.

Novak Djokovic feels Nadal’s No.1 favorite

Novak Djokovic at Italian Ope 2020
Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates with the trophy after winning the final against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman Pool via REUTERS/Riccardo Antimiani

A record 12-time champion at French Open, Nadal is the heavy favorite. But, this is the first time he will enter the tournament winning no prior clay-court competition.

Nadal leads Djokovic 17-7 in their clay-court encounters. Even then, Novak believes that Nadal is not infallible. However, one has to be at the peak of their fitness to down the ‘king of clay.’

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