Djokovic, the world No. 1, needs the French Open to complete his personal Grand Slam. If he manages to defeat Nadal, Djokovic would own all four major tournament titles at the same time. No one since Rod Laver in 1969 has held those four titles at once and only seven players have won at least one each of the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open in their careers.
Nadal is one of those. He has 10 Grand Slam titles and a win Sunday would tie him with Bjorn Borg for third most all-time major tournament titles. It would also allow Nadal to pass Borg for most French Open titles with seven. Other than Borg, no one has more than three.
Nadal is considered by many the greatest player on clay. He is certainly building a case to be the best ever at the French Open. Nadal hasn't dropped a set in the tournament this year and saw just two break points in a semifinal romp over sixth-seeded David Ferrer. He is 51-1 all-time at Roland Garros, having won 32 consecutive matches.
Nadal is 2-0 against Djokovic in Paris, although they haven't played since 2008 and Djokovic is a much different player than four years ago. Nadal has an 18-14 career edge and even won the last two meetings -- finals at Rome and Monte Carlo on clay courts.
But Djokovic won the previous seven -- all finals and two on clay. Three wins over Nadal that weren't on clay were title matches at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open, which brings him to the brink of history.
"There's a lot on the line," Djokovic said Friday. "It always is when you're playing finals of a Grand Slam. We expect another emotional match, another big challenge for both of us, fighting for one of the four biggest titles in our sport.
"And, of course the other side for me personally, is that I have this golden opportunity to make history. This motivates me. It really inspires me. I'm really grateful to be in this position, obviously. I'll try to prepare for that match and get my hands on that trophy if I can."
UPI horse racing roundup