French Open final 2014: Rafael Nadal bids to win title five times in a row but must overcome his fierce rival Novak Djokovic who continues his hunt for maiden French title
Nadal could become the first man in history to win a grand slam title in 10 straight years while a win for Djokovic will return him to the number one ranking
Saturday 07 June 2014
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are used to facing each other with huge prizes at stake and it will be no different on Sunday when they meet in the French Open final.
Nadal, who is chasing a remarkable ninth title at Roland Garros, is bidding to become the first man to win it five times in a row and the first man in history to win a grand slam title in 10 successive years.
Djokovic, meanwhile, is looking to win the one slam trophy he has never lifted, becoming the eighth man to complete a career Grand Slam, and reclaim the world number one ranking from Nadal.
He was close two years ago, when victory in Paris would have given him four slam titles in a row, but Nadal gained revenge for final defeats in the other three.
This will be their 42nd clash, more than any other two men in the Open era, and their seventh grand slam final - they have currently won three each.
Although Nadal and Roger Federer will probably be the rivalry that defines this era of men's tennis, Nadal and Djokovic is a more fascinating contest, not least because their games match up so well.
Nadal has won their last three slam matches, including in the semi-finals here last year, but Djokovic is on a four-match winning streak and beat the Spaniard in the final in Rome three weeks ago.
"Novak already did a lot of times, positive results here," said Nadal. "It's nothing new for him to be in the final. He has the motivation to win Roland Garros for the first time for sure.
"But at the same time, he has the pressure to win for the first time. I have the pressure that I want to win and the motivation that I want to win the ninth.
"I'm going to go on court with the same motivation as him. I don't know if it's the same pressure as him. Probably we are in different situations.
"But I don't know if that's going to make a big impact on the match. What's going to make the real impact is the player who will be playing better."
Djokovic admitted that last year he had become too obsessed with winning the French Open.
His semi-final loss to Nadal, where he had led 4-2 in the fifth set, hurt him, and he has not won a grand slam title since last year's Australian Open.
Djokovic insists the pressure on him is not as great as in the last two years, saying: "I guess each year I gain that experience in knowing how to handle certain situations psychologically.
"So it is more of a motivation for me, I would say a positive emotion going into the finals. Of course pressure is there. Expectations are there. They are always present when you are playing at this level.
"But I'm trying to channel this energy into the right direction and not get carried away too much by the stress of the occasion.
"So it is the final. It is the finals of a grand slam that I never won. Of course I'm going to give my best to lift the trophy.
"I'm going to have the ultimate challenge on clay across the net, Nadal. We all know how successful he is. But I have to believe and I have to try to win it."
Djokovic went into the tournament as the favourite after winning in Rome, handing Nadal his third defeat on clay this season, but that changed after the semi-finals on Friday.
Nadal played his best match of the season in thrashing Andy Murray while Djokovic was below par in a four-set win over Ernests Gulbis.
However, Serena Williams' coach Patrick Mouratoglou believes Djokovic should win.
The Frenchman said: "The key is in Novak's hands because I think if he plays with the right mindset, being aggressive, and the way he starts matches usually against Rafa, I think he has the keys to win.
"But there is so much pressure on this match. It's such an important match for his career.
"If, on the other hand, he comes to the match being a bit under pressure and he lets Rafa play, which he did a few times in the past, especially in that semi-final that he lost against him here last year, then he's going to lose.
"His mindset is going to be the key thing, but it's all in his hands."
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