Sunday, 8 September 2013

US Open 2013 Mens Final Preview: Rafael Nadal v Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic
Both singles finals this year will feature the top two players in the world and hopefully, will provide us with entertaining showpieces to conclude a US Open that has lacked headlines and high quality tennis matches.  Novak Djokovic's first 4 matches were a breeze as he lost just 22 games.  The last 2 rounds though have seen him lose his first sets of the tournament and he was pushed all the way by Stanislas Wawrinka in the semi-finals, recovering from a 2 sets to 1 deficit to win, 2-6 7-6(4) 3-6 6-3 6-4.  The final set was brilliant with the highlight of the contest being a 21-minute game at 1-1.  I'm not sure if it was just me but apart from the competitive nature of the contest, it was overall, not a great match.

Rafael Nadal has lost just 1 set all tournament and his form has been pretty staggering since making his return back in February.  That one dip came in the 4th round against Philipp Kohlschreiber where he lost the first set on a tiebreak.  He was given more of a test than most expected by Richard Gasquet in the semi-finals, but never looked like dropping a set in a 6-4 7-6(1) 6-2 victory.  21 hard court matches and 21 hard court wins so far, but his biggest test is likely to come in a best of five set match against Djokovic.

Nadal and Djokovic have played each other 36 times on the ATP tour; the key stats to take away from their head-to-head is that Nadal has won their last 2 encounters, which both went down to the wire.  Nadal edged their Roland Garros semi-final, 9-7 in the decider and triumphed again on hard courts, where Djokovic is widely assumed to be the best player, in a third set tiebreak in Canada.  Nadal has been serving terrifically this past few weeks and has lost his serve just once (to Gasquet).  He has been much more aggressive and will be the more confident player with Djokovic crumbling in the crucial moments of big matches this year.  His win over Wawrinka yesterday was perhaps his best win since beating Nadal in the Monte-Carlo final back in April, but I am still not fully convinced by Djokovic's recent form.

So who is going to win this one? It didn't take much deliberating on my part...

Prediction - Nadal to beat Djokovic in 4 sets

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