The Matchup Everyone Wants (Well Almost…)

There are plenty of opponents Rafael Nadal would like to play in the US Open Final on Monday.

Novak Djokovic is not at the top of the list.

“I prefer to play against another one, but is what it is,” Nadal said with a smile. “At the end, well, we have to be honest, no?  We don’t have to be stupid.  (laughter).

“Talking about a final, I want to play against a player that I have more chances to win.  But I play against him.  I played against him a lot of times.  Always we played very exciting matches. When you play, when you are involved in these kind of matches, you feel special.  And at the end, even if I lost that final in Australia, I feel happy to be involved in that match.”

Great but the No. 2 seed will take his shot at the No. 1 after Nadal finished of Richard Gasquet, 6-4 7-6 6-2 to reach the Finals of the US Open.

Even though Nadal is No. 2, he is playing the best in the world. Undefeated on the Hard Courts this summer and only losing 3 games since coming back in February, you have to think the Spaniard is the favorite going into Monday’s match.

“I gonna try my best to win on Monday,” he said.  “But be the second (Grand Slam) will not make the difference.  What makes the difference is win the US Open.  That’s most important and win one or second, no?  Either one for me means the same.  That match means the same if I already had one or doesn’t matter.  At the end, for me the only important thing is the US Open.  That’s the most important thing.”

Nadal will be looking to dominate Djokovic on his server. He may want to look at Stan Wawrinka’s matchup today as a template. The Swiss forced the Serb back with an aggressive serve. Nadal will have to play the same way.

By putting Djokovic on his heels, Nadal will be able to stop the Serb’s aggressive return.

It’s worked in the past as Nadal has a 21-15 lead all time, but Djokovic is 9-4 on the Hardcourts against Nadal.

Djokovic seems confident against his old rival.

“Well, it’s always the biggest challenge that you can have in our sport now,” Djokovic said.  “I mean, he’s the ultimate competitor out there.  He’s fighting for every ball and he’s playing probably the best tennis that he ever played on hard courts.

“He hasn’t lost a match on hard court this year, and we all knew that over the course of last six, seven, eight years, hard court hasn’t been his favorite surface.

“He has got injuries, many injuries on this surface, but now he looks fit.  He had seven months off.  He lost three matches this year.  With no doubt he’s the best player in the moment this year, no question about it.

“So the way he’s been playing he’s very confident, but, you know, I know how to play him.  Hard court is the surface that, as I said, is my most successful surface.  I have played him already here twice in the finals.  I know what I need to do.”

But with this kind of streak it’s not going to be easy. Djokovic came out flat vs. Wawrinka and if the Swissman didn’t hurt his leg, the Djokovic would be on a flight right now to the Davis Cup.

But this is the match everyone wanted and with the two best players in the world matching up, it’s going to be one heck of a Final come Monday.

About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

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