Djokovic and Nadal to battle it out in what will be their sixth final meeting
of the year.
‘Djoker’ has won the previous five battles, but as they play for the final Slam
of the year, both men will be all too aware that he who laughs last, laughs
reached his third Slam final of the year, the Serb may be a little disappointed
by his form so far. He has been solid and reliable but at times he seems to
have struggled to really slip into gear and get going in matches.
semi-final with Federer was a perfect example of this. The World No.1 seemed to
be playing well within himself in the first set and when Federer suddenly
stepped it up in the second, he found himself two sets down and on his way out.
To come back
from two sets down against Federer, was impressive enough, but to save two
match points, on Federer’s serve, for the second year in succession, was
bordering on the miraculous.
will know he is lucky to be in this final. And whilst the story of the stunning
forehand return on match point and the playing to the crowd afterwards, is now
being painted as Serbian genius, the truth is that Djokovic was riled by the
crowd’s support for Federer and lashed out probably more in frustration and
anger, than bravery and hope.
didn’t quite look himself here in the early stages and coming off the back of a
fairly miserable summer in the Master’s events that was probably to be
expected. However, since his sudden bout of press conference cramp at the end
of the first week, the Spaniard has loosened up and with each passing match has
looked more and more the man who swept all aside to claim the Title here in
probably played one of his better matches against Nadal on Saturday evening,
yet was still powered off the court convincingly by the World No.2.
I get the
impression that Rafa has been itching for a Final meeting, here in New York, since the second he lost his Wimbledon
crown to the Serb in June.
these two men have met in five Tour finals so far in 2011 and Djokovic has won
them all, this one is different. This is the first time Djokovic has come in as
the tennis handicapper’s favourite and the first time he will be meeting Nadal
as World No.1.
going to put extra pressure on Djokovic right from the start and Nadal may feel
a little looser, playing in the final of a Grand Slam, where he does not start
as a favourite, for the first time in many years.
is going to be vital in this match. In 2010 Nadal turned up at this event with
such an improved serve, nobody, including Djokovic, could get near him. In
truth Rafa has struggled to consistently bring that serve to his matches in
2011 and indeed in their fist meeting of the year, at Indian Wells in March, a
complete breakdown of the Nadal serve in the second set, lost him that match
and handed Djokovic the initiative which he has kept ever since.
contrast, the Djokovic serve has been back to its best in 2011 after letting
him down a lot in the previous 12 months.
The game plans
Djokovic knows he just needs to carry on doing what has worked so successfully
for him against Nadal this year. He can rely on his serve and knows that his
incredible defence has so far soaked up everything the Spaniard has to offer.
Djokovic can consistently put the ball deep into the court, frequently finding
the baseline, and it’s from this position the errors start to come from the
has not been sitting idly since Wimbledon,
waiting for this match to come along. Four final defeats in succession would
have ruffled the Spaniard but it was that crushing and comprehensive dismissal
at Wimbledon which will have forced Nadal back
to the drawing board.
almost guarantee there’ll be a surprise from Rafa on Monday afternoon in New York. It could be
the return of the huge serve. We may see him trying to end points earlier or
really attack Djokovic before rallies get going, trying to force the errors
from the Serb. It’s strange to think of Nadal being the one more likely to
loose a rally the longer it goes on, but that’s now what he’s faced with when
he plays Djokovic. He’ll need to bring something different to the table this time.
backed Djokovic at the start of this event and watched him defeat Nadal on five
occasions already this year, in tennis betting it’s very difficult to see past another victory
for the Serb.
has the edge mentally, on his serve, in long rallies and defensively. You never
say never with Rafa Nadal, but he will need to play the match of his life if
he’s to successfully defend his US Open Title here on Monday night.
Djokovic to win the match – 4/6
win 3-0 – 10/3 – William Hill
Faults – Rafa Nadal at tennis odds of 8/13