It is the perfect way to conclude the season: an epic collision between the two top players on the ATP tour, battling it out for the ATP World Tour Finals year-end championships. This year, the contest is between Rafael Nadal (Player Bio) and Novak Djokovic (Player Bio), who have dominated the tour, winning 16 titles between them as well as three of the four Grand Slam titles. Rafa leads Djokovic 22-16 in the head-to-head record, but Djokovic won their most recent encounter last month in Beijing after having his No. 1 ranking usurped by the Spaniard. Check out the Nadal vs Djokovic H2H matches.
Nadal’s win over Federer in the semis was particularly impressive because it marked his first over the Swiss on an indoor hard court. The win extended his winning record over Federer to 22-10 and now means he has beaten the Swiss legend on every playing surface. It was a dominant performance today and while it appeared that Federer was slightly fatigued following his marathon match with Del Potro the day before, Rafa was clearly on point and had no intention of losing the match.
The Spaniard admits that he is not a fan of the indoor surfaces but is happy with his performances so far and is confident heading into his final match-up tomorrow. Djokovic may be considered the favourite in the match, particularly with his magnificent winning streak, but Nadal has improved tremendously on the court and will make for an interesting contest.
“The most important thing for me is [that indoor] is the toughest surface for me to play,” Nadal said. “The most difficult for me was to be able to win four matches against top-eight players. It’s a very good way to finish the year.”
Serbian No. 1 Novak Djokovic dispatched Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3, 6-3 to advance to his second consecutive World Tour Finals and extend his winning streak to 21 matches. Wawrinka simply had no answers for Djokovic’s sublime serving and his extraordinary returns. While he attempted several times, there was no penetrating the Serbian defence on this particular occassion. Djokovic is currently riding the third longest winning streak of his career, as he has not lost a match since the US Open final. He also holds a victory over Nadal in their most recent encounter, which adds to his confidence heading into their match tomorrow. While this may be the case, he still expects a hard fought thre set battle with the Spaniard.
“I hope that I can carry today’s performance into Monday’s match because this was the best match I had so far this week. I felt great on the court.”Of course, [there is] no clear favourite in the final tomorrow. It’s always expected that we [will] go the distance.”
Djokovic’s returns will be vital in his contest with Nadal tomorrow. The Spaniard is not comfortable on the indoor courts and will not want to get into long rallies with Djokovic. Nadal will need to focus on aggressively attacking the net to keep Djokovic constantly guessing or else he will likely find himself defending shots from all ends of the court. While Nadal is more than capable of doing so, his accuracy is simply not the same on this surface and that would likely bring out more unforced errors, which could prove to be disastrous tomorrow afternoon.
This marks the first time since 2010 that both finalists are undefeated coming into the championship match. Rafa and Novak both come in with 4-0 records at this year’s year-end championships and they will meet for an record 39th time. This is also their sixth meeting of the season, with Nadal leading 3-2. With the way this season has progressed, was there ever any doubt that these two would meet to decide the World Tour Finals Champion.
Prediction: Djokovic in Three Sets