Where the match can be won
Two of the sport’s greatest, Djokovic and Nadal know each other’s games inside out, but in this most extraordinary of years, much will boil down to who handles the change in conditions, the expectations with history on the line, and the most unusual of lead-ups best.
As Djokovic said, how heavy, slippery and windy the conditions proved would impact both mentally.
“Obviously the conditions are different than the ones that we are used to playing in May and June. I think that could be a better chance for me, obviously the ball not bouncing as high over the shoulder as he likes it usually,” Djokovic said.
Nadal makes no secret he is more partial to hotter conditions on a higher-bouncing, drier clay where his whipping forehand blows have more sting and drag opponents out of position more effectively.
Djokovic will be intent on taking that time away from the Spaniard, especially deploying what his second-round victim Daniel Elahi Galan described as his “rocket forehand”. Few players can consistently step up as close to the baseline on clay as the Serb, to redirect Nadal’s shots with interest.