Baseline Buzz: Djokovic's chances


PARIS -- At least there won't be pressure on Novak Djokovic come Sunday.

After all, the only things at stake for him are the world No. 1 ranking; a career Grand Slam; a seventh major title, which would tie John McEnroe and Mats Wilander, among others; and a giant leap atop the sport's pantheon.

It's a good thing Djokovic heads into what we can argue is the biggest match of his life feeling fit and fresh. Er ?

"There is nothing bothering me," Djokovic said after a languid four-set win over Ernests Gulbis in the semis. "Just the general fatigue that, you know, probably was influenced by conditions or other things that I felt today."

By his standards, that wasn't an overly laborious match for Djokovic, who played just over 2½ hours Friday. But the heat, which reached well into the 80s, clearly took its toll on the world No. 2.

"It happens, you know," Djokovic said. "It happens in the tournament, and important thing for me is that I realize what's going on. It's nothing serious. I'm going to have now two days of recovery and get ready for the final."

The good news for Djokovic is that Sunday's forecast calls for a 50 percent chance of precipitation, which would cool things off significantly.

More good news: Despite Djokovic's unconvincing semifinal, he has lost only one match on clay in 2014 and beat Rafa in the Rome final last month. And that confidence cannot be underestimated.

With that, the final we wanted is upon us. But how it will play out is anyone's guess. Jim Caple of espnW and tennis editor Matt Wilansky will give it a whirl in another spellbinding edition of the Baseline Buzz.

Wilansky: Jim, I don't know about you, but I am a big believer in momentum. We've talked and written about Nadal's ho-hum play coming into the French Open, yet here he is playing the best ball he has all season. Nadal has dropped only one set and spent nearly two hours less on court than Djokovic though six matches. As someone once said, confidence begets more confidence -- and Rafa is feeling, well, confident. Plus, there's the fact Nadal has won this thing something like eight times. So there's that.

Caple: Covering baseball, I've learned that momentum is only as good as your next starting pitcher. In tennis, however, you always have the same starter, so Big Mo is definitely on Rafa's side. As is the surface. As we have mentioned throughout the fortnight, Nadal has been virtually unbeatable here. He has won 34 matches in a row and 65 of 66 here, along with eight titles. They should rename this place Rafa Garros. He's the reason Djokovic is still looking for that elusive French title. Rafa keeps beating him. He is 5-0 against Djoker here and 22-19 for his career.

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