Yeah Nadal is here and there. Moments of greatness, but shanking too many balls, and not getting enough free points on serve. Ugh.Good post @MichaelNadal . Just comparing:
Novak seems in so much better form: 100% physically. Moving fast as ever. Mentally strong as ever. Technically: Serve (bigger than usual), drop shots, lobs, forehand BIGGER this tournament, and backhand reliable as always. On his A game.
Nadal shows small patches of his A game. But he tires in matches over 2 hours with good opponents. He starts to hit short under pressure. Serve sub-par all tournament.
Backhand is NOT at 100% hard level, forehand is hit and miss,so NOT consistently deep and heavy when he is at his best. Overall Nadal is nowhere near his best form on clay and is moving slower than usual.
On top of all that: The conditions being cool and balls being heavy favor Novak. Nadal's spin won't be jumping up at all. Lastly, Novak always has the mental edge as slams vs Nadal. He finds a way to win even when Nadal is playing better (ex Wimb 2018).
Given all this how can Nadal prevail? Unless he can suddenly play at his best, there is no outcome other than Novak in 4 sets.