After dethroning Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals and overcoming a long semifinal battle against Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic (N.1) faces the Roland Garros final on Sunday, the only Grand Slam he lacks, against Stan Wawrinka (N.8), a player who knows how to beat him.
On aggregate, the Swiss has only beaten the Serbian three times in 20 matches (5-1 on clay), but he inflicted one of his most painful defeats.
It happened in 2014, at the Australian Open, Djokovic’s favorite tournament, who had just won it the previous three years.
Wawrinka, who would end up lifting the trophy, eliminated him in the quarterfinals, in a spectacular duel that ended 9-7 in the fifth set.
The Swiss is used to putting him in difficulties on the big stages. He took him to the limit at the 2013 US Open (defeat in five sets) and in the second round of Australia 2013 (12-10 for the Serb in the fifth).
– The last barrier –
Djokovic, who is on a 28-match winning streak, will play his 16th Grand Slam final, just one step away from his main objective, to win the only major missing from his collection and definitively enter the tennis pantheon.
But, in addition to the precedents, there are other factors that invite us to think that his victory will not be exactly a stroll.
A ‘Djoko’ could betray the anxiety to overcome the last barrier. After having twice lost the final in Paris, in 2012 and 2014 against Nadal, he is again threatened by altitude sickness.
This element came into play in the semi-final against Murray, decided in the fifth round after 4 hours and 9 minutes. The Serb, who seemed about to close out the match in the third, allowed the Scotsman to win two sets.
In addition, the possibility of a storm and then the lack of light, forced the organization to postpone the match to Saturday, when it was in the middle of the fourth set.
– Less physical wear –
Djokovic sealed his pass, but raised some doubts. In addition to ‘letting himself’ come back, the possible physical wear and tear could weigh on him against Wawrinka.
The Serbian will have just 24 hours to rest and prepare for the title match, while Wawrinka, who finished exhausted on Friday in a day in which 35 degrees were reached, will have twice as much time.
In addition, Wawrinnka has shown that challenges do not scare him.
He reaches the final after having dismissed his compatriot and friend Roger Federer on the fast track in the quarters.
In the semifinals he eliminated the local idol Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, showing great mental solidity against a Philippe Chatrier who did not stop pushing the Frenchman.
“I have a game that annoys the other players. When I feel at the top of my form, I can beat anyone, “he warns.