Rafael Nadal faces Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s French Open final denying he is under pressure to match Roger Federer’s Grand Slam record. Nadal goes into the final at Roland Garros one behind Federer’s all-time leading record of 20 Grand Slam titles.
His astounding career on clay marks him out as favourite against Djokovic, with the Spaniard undefeated in French Open finals and looking to add to his incredible tally of 12 triumphs in the tournament.
And Nadal insisted he is not thinking about matching Federer’s record as he faces world number one Djokovic – merely enhancing his own legacy in his favourite slam.
“I live my reality,” the 34-year-old told Spanish journalists.
“When we finish, we talk about [Federer’s record]. For me, what matters at the moment is that I will play the final of the most important tournament of the year for me.”
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Nadal and Djokovic will contest their ninth Grand Slam final on Sunday with the former having had a slightly more straightforward passage through the last four.
‘The King of Clay’ defeated Diego Schwartzman in straight sets to reach his 13th French Open final.
Djokovic, who has won the tournament just once in his career, was taken the distance by Stefanos Tsitsipas, eventually grinding out a five-set victory.
But Nadal knows he will have to be on top his game against his 33-year-old opponent, who is just two slam triumphs behind him in the all-time ranking.
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“You can’t be in the final of Roland Garros without suffering,” said Nadal.
“I made a couple of mistakes tactically and technically. But, in general terms, I am super happy about the match.
“To win against Diego, you have to work a lot and you have to play well for such a long time. But I found a way.
“Against Novak, I need to play my best. He is one of the toughest opponents possible. But I like to play in this scenario.”
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Despite Djokovic’s semi-final going to five sets, the Serb’s match only lasted 45 minutes longer than Nadal, and he declared he would be up for the challenge of handing his rival a first French Open final loss.
“I’m not feeling exhausted physically so much after the match,” he said.
“It was a great battle. But I feel fine.
“I’m really looking forward to a great battle with Rafa.”
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