“I know the game plan,” said Djokovic, according to Piers Newbery of BBC Sport, “and I'm going to be confident and step into the court with self belief. I know what it takes to beat [Nadal]. I'm going to win—that's the mindset.”
It’s impossible to compete without confidence.
Djokovic talked confidently prior to his Friday-morning showdown with the Spaniard. However, the Serbian needs to realize he’s facing off against a different animal than the one he defeated this past April.
“I know what it takes [to win against Nadal],” said Djokovic, per the same BBC Sport report “I played him in Monte Carlo earlier this year and on clay. I played a fantastic match."
Djokovic beat Nadal on clay before the 2013 Monte-Carlo Masters as well. He bested him in back-to-back 2011 finals at Madrid and Rome. However, history supports the fact that the King of Clay’s game rises to a nearly unbeatable level at the Roland Garros grand slam.
Rafa only lost once in the tournament ever. That one loss wasn’t at the hands of Djoker.
This year will be the fifth time their paths have crossed in the French Open. The previous four, Djokovic managed to force Nadal to play beyond three sets just once. He never forced a fifth.
Djokovic knows what it takes to win against Nadal on clay. Only Robin Soderling knows what it takes to win against him in the French Open.
Nadal continues to improve as this year’s tourney progresses. After struggling in his first three matches, he breezed past his last two opponents in straight sets, including a 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 thrashing of ATP world No. 10 Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarterfinals.
Momentum is on the three-time reigning champion’s side. A loss to Djokovic, no matter how talented he is, would be a shock.
David Daniels is a breaking news writer at Bleacher Report and a news editor at Wade-O Radio.