(1) Novak Djokovic (-333) vs. (6) Rafael Nadal (+250)
Ever since the draw came out for the 2015 French Open, it was apparent that the two main favorites were on a quarterfinals collision course. Both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal held up their end of the bargain by advancing on Monday and now the top-ranked player in the world will face the best clay court player of all-time tomorrow.
Despite never having won the French Open, Djokovic entered Roland Garros as the favorite. He’s played the part to a tee so far, dominating his first four opponents without dropping a set (Jarkko Nieminen (6-2, 7-5, 6-2), Gilles Muller (6-1, 6-4, 6-4), Thanasi Kokkinakis (6-4, 6-4, 6-4), and Richard Gasquet (6-1, 6-2, 6-3)).
Tomorrow, Djokovic’s task gets considerably tougher, as he faces nine-time French Open champ Nadal. “Rafa” has taken the last five Roland Garros singles titles and, astoundingly, has lost just one match at the tournament over an entire decade. He’s also never lost to Djokovic at the French Open, going 6-0 against the Serbian.
“It’s the biggest challenge I can have on clay,” Djokovic said in his press conference after beating Gasquet. “He’s lost just once here in his career.”
Nadal has dropped in the ATP rankings (largely due to injuries) and struggled somewhat in the lead up to the French. But he’s looked solid over the first four rounds, beating Quentin Halys (6-3, 6-3, 6-4), Nicolas Almagro (6-4, 6-3, 6-1), Andrey Kuznetsov (6-1, 6-3, 6-2), and Jack Sock (6-3, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2).
Djokovic and Nadal have met 43 times on the ATP tour and the head-to-head is fairly even (23-20 in favor of Nadal). But, as mentioned, Nadal has a perfect record against Djokovic at the French and is 14-5 all-time against Nole on clay.
Despite those lopsided clay court numbers, Nadal simply hasn’t looked as dominant on his favorite surface this season, losing in Rome to Andy Murray and struggling somewhat in the fourth round against the American Sock, a player that he should dominate on clay.
That’s why the play here is the world No. 1.
Pick: Djokovic (-333).
(Photo credit: Yann Caradec [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)