The challenging conditions of the French Open will favour Novak Djokovic if he takes on Rafael Nadal in the final of the Grand Slam this weekend. Djokovic came from a set down and overcame physical niggles to defeat Pablo Carreno Busta and book his spot in the semi-finals, where he will face Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The world No 1 had to have tape put on his neck and had his left arm massaged early on but battled back to win 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4.
The Serbian is hoping to clinch his 18th Grand Slam and is hoping to make up for being defaulted from the US Open against Spain’s Carreno Busta last month for accidentally striking a line umpire with a stray ball.
Neither Nadal or Roger Federer, out for the rest of 2020 through injury, were in New York and instead Dominic Thiem claimed his first ever Slam after Djokovic’s elimination.
But at Roland Garros, Djokovic is expected to have to find a way past clay-court specialist Nadal – who faces Diego Schwartzman in the other semi-final.
Nadal has won 12 of his 18 Slams in Paris and has been victorious in all of the past three years since Djokovic won the French Open for the first time against Andy Murray in 2016.
Djokovic has faced the Spaniard 55 times, winning on 29 occasions compared to Nadal’s 26 triumphs, but has only won one of their seven meetings at this tournament.
Yet seven-time Grand Slam winner McEnroe, who was only ever a runner-up on the red dirt in France, believes the testing cold temperatures favour Djokovic if the two go head-to-head in the final.
“Obviously he was thinking a little bit about the US Open to me because his opponent was the same guy when he got defaulted, that was a little bit in his head,” McEnroe said on Eurosport.
“We’ve talked throughout the tournament about how cold it is there, so that’s an issue. You could see that it appeared to be bothering him, the arm, his neck.
“The other part of it is the pressure. He’s trying to catch Rafa and Roger so he’s obviously put a lot of pressure on himself. To me, the outcome was never in doubt unless he literally stopped playing.