2020 may have been a strange year for tennis but on Sunday afternoon a seismic dose of normality will hit Court Philippe Chatrier when Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic walk out to face each other for a record 56th time.
And the stakes could not be higher with the two men both three sets away rewriting the history books once again.
Victory for Nadal would give him a record-extending 13th French Open trophy and move him level with Roger Federer at the top of the all-time Grand Slam titles list on 20.
The Spaniard is an incredible 99-2 in Paris with Djokovic claiming one of those two wins in 2015.
Beating Nadal on a clay court is one of the most difficult tasks in all of sport but if there is one person equipped with the skills to stop him it’s Djokovic.
After his astonishing default at the US Open last month, Djokovic has suppressed his emotional side which usually fuels him and can lead to on-court eruptions to defiantly reach another Grand Slam final.
If the world No 1 is successful in inflicting Nadal’s third defeat at the French Open, he will become the first man in history to win every Grand Slam and Masters 1000 event twice.
Arguably the most interested observer of the match will be Federer, who continues his recovery from knee surgery in the summer.
And whatever happens today, Federer’s grip on his long-held record of Grand Slam titles will be weaker.
But when the Swiss superstar switches on his TV, who might the 39-year-old be supporting?
According to 18-time Grand Slam singles winner Chris Evert, who’s working for Eurosport throughout Roland Garros, Federer is likely to be backing his ‘friend’ Nadal.
“I would say he may be rooting for Rafa a little bit more, but only because they’re friends,” she told Express Sport.
“But that’s a tough question.”
With his run to the final in Paris, Djokovic has ensured he will reach 295 weeks as world No 1 on November 23 and it will put him just 15 behind Federer’s record of 310.
And Evert, who was No 1 for 260 weeks in her decorated career, spoke of her admiration for the ‘flawless’ Serbian.
She said: “Novak is at times, not human. I look at Nadal and see a warrior, fighting for everything, he’s going to leave blood on the court.
“I look at Djokovic and I see more of a robot but in a good sense. The mental part of his game is a level ahead of everyone else, it’s awesome. His game is flawless, he doesn’t make errors, he moves well, he has good defence and offence. If he has a weakness, it would be himself.
“If he’s not in the mood to play or he’s upset or whatever. But he’s like a wall, it’s hard to get through a wall.”
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