No, not the Nadal – Federer final everyone usually wants. Yes, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, the two best players in the world, the two players who have split the two Grand Slam titles so far this year, the two players who have split all the Masters tournaments this year. The best game we could have asked for.
Rafael Nadal was out of this world during the last three sets earlier today against Andy Murray. The Brit took the first set with brilliant tennis. Then Nadal stepped up, and delievered a master class. Never exciting (at least to me), Nadal is just too good when he’s in his zone. Only three unforced errors in those 3 sets (winning them 6-2, 6-4, 6-4). That’s not human.
Djokovic – He did beat Tsonga 3-1, but it wasn’t nearly as dominant like the later semi final. Tsonga showed his amazing forehand, his great-to-watch athleticism and the two produced three incredible rallies ending with both of them on the grass, giving the crowd a hell of a show. Despite Tsonga winning the crowd, he lacked the consistency he usually lacks in big matches, why at 26 he’s with only one Grand Slam Final on his track record. Djokovic? The usual base line clinic, proving again he’s the best returner in the game.
47-1. That’s Novak’s record this year. One loss, to Roger Federer, in the Roland Garros semi final. Other than that? The Australian Open, the best of the seven titles he’s amassed this year, four of them Masters, all of those won with Nadal facing him in the tournament final. It’s been over a month since that win in Rome in a magical May – Djokovic beat Rafa in two straight clay finals, including in Madrid. By the way, Djokovic, no matter what happens on Sunday, will be the next world number one, the first time in 387 weeks that someone not named Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal leads the ATP rankings.
Despite the impressive introduction and despite Djokovic taking over the number one spot, Nadal has to be the favorite. His tennis against Andy Murray – the slow and cruel grind, the ability to reach every ball (something Djokovic “copied” this year and against Tsonga), the fact that he’s won four of the last five Grand Slam tournaments, the fact that he has a 16-11 lead over Novak in their head to head.
Above all else, he’s playing better tennis right now, and that’s the most important thing. He has already won at Wimbledon, and what are the odds Novak beats him for a fifth consecutive time? Really, what are the odds?
A final point – The ATP needs Djokovic to win. Having Nadal win two straight slams and actually lose his first place is ridiculous, a joke. Novak has won a Slam this year so this isn’t a farce like the WTA seems to be facing every now and again, but something is wrong with the system.