|Djokovic to face Nadal for the first time on clay since their epic battle at the French Open last year|
What more, this year we've seen the emergence of players who are bubbling underneath the Big 4, namely the surge of Wawrinka. His rise to the top was marked by his victories over Djokovic and Nadal at the Australian Open, and defeat of Federer at Monte Carlo Masters. Furthermore, this year we've seen the decline of Nadal. If you consider his titles, Dubai was the only convincing tournament he won, though he went on the win Rio and Madrid. In each those two latter case, he was on the knife edge of losing. He had to save two match points at Rio. He won Madrid, but his uncle/coach said he clearly didn't deserve the title - and I agree. If Kei Nishikori wasn't having to deal with his back, I think he wins.
Besides all of those, as if there hasn't been enough tennis twists and turns this years, there was the out-of-the-blue wrist injury of Novak Djokovic. It has mitigated, indicated by his participation of Rome after sitting out Madrid, but I saw him holding his right hand ( not necessary wrist ) in the third set against Raonic. I Googled this, but there haven't been any new updates. Let's hope Novak is 100% and ready to take on Rafa tomorrow in a best of three.
What's been common during this clay court season was the fact that, when Nadal is under pressure, he's starting to make more and more errors, whereas, he was the one known making his opponents make errors by putting them under pressure.
As for tomorrow's final, whoever wins this is going to be the favorite for the French Open. Last year, Novak didn't do well in Rome, but went onto almost beat Rafa in Paris. But that doesn't mean Djokovic is OK with a loss, but's more of the case that a loss hurt Nadal more. He's the one who's having to rediscover his form. He was four points away from losing to Murray - who's never known for his clay court tennis. Semi-final against Dimitrov was a straightforward match, but the recurring theme of that match was Dimitrov gifting Nadal points at will. His unforced errors to winners was almost 3 to 1. He never made Nadal think! Djokovic is definitely the better player than Murray on clay. So could he do what Murray came close to doing, but not quite? I think so. It's likely going to be another three set match, which is nothing new considering their road to the final.
Prediction: Djokervic def. Nadal ( 6 - 3 in the 3rd )