For the 6th time in their careers, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will be facing each other in a major final. The top two players in the world will do battle in a Monday finish, new for this year, and whoever wins the match could gain an advantage in finishing the year at #1.
As usual with matches between Djokovic and Nadal, it will be a war of attrition and both guys will push each other to the limit. Both have been in very solid form throughout the tournament, though Djokovic has been tested far more, being taken to 4 against Mikhail Youzhny in the quarterfinal and of course to 5 sets by Stan Wawrinka in the semis. Nadal has only lost his serve once in the tournament (to Gasquet in the semi) and has only dropped one set, to Kohlschreiber in the 4th round.
Nadal is undefeated on hardcourt this season and is looking to win his 13th Grand Slam title, while Djokovic hasn't won a title since Monte Carlo in the spring and will be looking to win his 7th Grand Slam title. He is playing in his 7th consecutive hardcourt major final dating back to the US Open in 2010.
In some ways, I see this match similar to Agassi vs Sampras in the US Open final of 1995. Agassi was on a roll that summer, beating Pete in the Montreal final and had all the momentum. This summer, Nadal has had all the momentum and beat Djokovic in Montreal. Sampras ended up beating Agassi in the US Open final, and we will see if Djokovic can win and get his second victory over Nadal this year.
We all know Djokovic has the best return in the world and he will need to use it to full effect. Nadal hasn't faced a great returner yet and has had no trouble on his serve all tournament, and that should change dramatically against the Serb. It could also shock him initially to not be able to take control of the point off the first shot. The man they call Nole will need to also use his backhand down the line effectively to keep the ball away from Rafa's monstrous forehand.
Nadal pretty much needs to play the way he did in Montreal - flatten out his forehand more and take the ball up the line. He has been the hottest guy on tour the whole year and his confidence could be the most dangerous facet of his game.
I'm taking Djokovic in 4 because I think he will bring his best game and he will hurt Nadal's serve, but in reality I could easily see the match going to a 5th, which would be great for all the viewers.
May the final be good,