When the draw came out a lot of mouths started watering. Another chapter in the phenomenal Djokodal rivalry. Match number #49! Currently Djokovic has the lead, 25 – 23 and he has won the six latest matches. Actually the last time Nadal beat Djokovic was in French Open 2014.
The odds from the bookies are HEAVILY in Djokovic's favour. The biggest odds provider in the world, Bet365, is giving 1.30 times your money on Djokovic winning and a whopping 3.50 on a Rafa victory.
Is it that unlikely that Rafa will win? I don't think so. Djokovic has been far from his best in Rome and lost the first set against Bellucci 0-6 yesterday after a dismal performance. He did steady the ship and come through in the end, but it wasn't the tennis machine we've seen of late. We all know he's not best friends with the red dirt, despite his amazing results on it.
Nadal, on the other hand, has looked closer to his old self lately than he has since the French Open in 2014! He's playing with more confidence and daring to go for his infamous banana-shot, the curling forehand down the line and making it most of the time. Since Nadal is a confidence player, his record against Djokovic will not be inspiring, but might make him fight harder than he has in years to make sure he creates a dent in his rival's seemingly impenetrable armour before the French Open.
I believe the start of the match will be extremely important and will go as far as to say that the one who takes the first set, wins the match. It's definitely even more important for Nadal to get a good start and him being a sometimes nervous and slow starter, I would see that as his main hurdle for winning.
No matter what, it's going to be a thrilling contest and the perfect appetizer for the French Open.