Monte Carlo win can fire Novak Djokovic to French Open success
Last weekend world number one Novak Djokovic became the first person to beat Rafael Nadal at the Monte Carlo Open clay court tournament since Guillermo Coria beat a callow 16-year-old a decade ago. As a result Coral have eased the Spaniard to 4/5 to defend his French Open title with Djokovic cut to 9/4 to claim Nadal’s Roland Garros crown and the latter could be worth backing to end the three-time defending champion’s reign in Paris.
After a rain-delayed start in Monte Carlo the Serbian raced into a five games to love lead and would’ve bageled the defending champion if not for five saved break points. Nadal fought back in the second set before eventually succumbing in a tie break.
It was the fifth consecutive final Nadal has reached since his return from a long-term knee injury and after the match the former world number one was philosophical in his post-match interview admitting “If you told me four months ago that I would play five finals in a row, I would be crying with emotion.”
With a month still to go before the French Open gets under way Nadal can more fitness-enhancing games under his belt this week at Barcelona’s Open Banco Sabadell and will be closer to full fitness at Roland Garros.
Djokovic’s latest victory against Rafael Nadal takes the pair’s career head-to-head record to 19-15 in the Spaniard’s favour, but the pendulum of their recent ding-dongs seems to be swinging in the boy from Belgrade’s favour, with seven of the last 10 meetings going the way of the Serbian.
All three of the wins notched by Nadal in that period came on clay, the surface on which he’s at his very best, but the left-hander far from dominated his rival on the dirt with three more clay court clashes going to Djokovic.
With Rafa still struggling for full fitness this may well be Novak Djokovic’s best chance yet of ending his French Open drought.