Paris, France (4E Sports) – Top seed and defending champion Rafael Nadal and No. 2 Novak Djokovic will collide Sunday with the French Open and the No. 1 ranking on the line.
Nadal needs to capture his ninth title on Parisian clay if he is to remain at No. 1 for a 138th week. He would be the first player in tennis history to lift five straight Roland Garros crowns.
However, if Djokovic prevails, he will take the No. 1 spot for the first time since October 2013 and become the eighth man to complete a career Grand Slam.
Nadal improved to a 65-1 record at Roland Garros with a sensational 6-3, 6-2 6-1 win over seventh seed Andy Murray in the semifinals on Friday.
With the win that took one one hour and 40 minutes, Nadal improved to 15-5 lifetime against Murray in their head-to-head clash and moved within two victories of 700 career match wins.
Djokovic, for his part, advanced to his 13th Grand Slam championship final with a 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory over No. 18 seed Ernests Gulbis in two hours and 36 minutes.
Nadal took taking advantage of Murray’s slow start to take a 3-0 lead in the first set. He wrapped up the 34-minute first set with a forehand volley winner. He did not lose a point on his first serve to take the second set in just 31 minutes.
Nadal will shoot for his 14th major trophy. If he triumphs, he will become the first player to win at least one major per season for 10 straight years.
Nadal and Djokovic will meet for a 42nd time, with the Spaniard leading their all-time series, 22-19.
Djokovic is 12-9 in their overall tour finals, including 3-3 in Grand Slam championship matches. Nadal, however, is a perfect 5-0 versus Djokovic overall at Roland Garros.
Djokovic has beaten Nadal the last four times they’ve played, including a final on clay in Rome just last month.
Nadal is 63-28 in his career ATP finals, including 3-3 this season, while Djokovic is 44-21 in his career finals, including 3-0 this year.