The 2014 Sony Open Tennis tournament will culminate with a thrilling showdown between the top two competitors on the ATP World Tour, as top seed Rafael Nadal and world No. 2 Novak Djokovic are scheduled to clash in the Sunday final in Miami. Although their paths to the final are extraordinary, with both men not playing a single point in their semi-final matches on Friday, the result is still the same: a 40th encounters between the Rafa and Djokovic. The Spaniard leads the head-to-head series 22-17, yet Djokovic has won their last two consecutive matches in 2013. Check out the Nadal vs Djokovic Head to Head matches and stats.
Three-time finalist Rafael Nadal is through to his fourth final in Miami, where he will be looking to lift his 27 Masters 1000 title, and his first at the Sony Open. Overall, it has been a strong fortnight for Rafa, who defeated Hewitt, Istomin and Fognini without dropping more than four games per match, yet needed slightly more effort to dispatch of Raonic in three sets. Arriving at his semi-final clash with Berdych, it was revealed that the Czech No. 1 had suffered a stomach virus and would be withdrawing from the event, offering Nadal a walkover into the final.
Now, with both Friday and Saturday to prepare for the anticipated final, Nadal is aware of the task at hand against Djokovic, and will look to produce his best tennis to finally lift the Miami title.
“My thoughts are always the same,” added the World No. 1 “The only chance to win against Novak is to play to the limit, play my best. I will see. I know I have to be solid with my serve. I need to play aggressive, no doubt about that.
“For me, it is a very important result to be in the final of Miami. After Indian Wells, to be able to compete for the title in the tournament where I have a lot of friends, a Latin crowd that supports me every day, that’s very important for me. To be in the final already there are 600 (Emirates ATP Ranking) points that for me, at this part of the season, are very important.”
Three-time Miami champion Novak Djokovic was also the victim of extraordinary luck on Friday afternoon, as he was the first of the two finalists to be informed that he would not need to compete to reach the final, as his scheduled opponent, Kei Nishikori, was forced to withdraw from the event with a left groin injury. The news was surprising to Djokovic, who had already received a walkover at this event in the third round, when Florian Mayer was forced to withdraw. The top ranked Serb only took part in three matches this fortnight, against Chardy, Robredo and British No. 1 Andy Murray – all of which ended in straight sets.
Apart form seeking his fourth crown in Miami, Djokovic is looking to achieve the Indian Wells-Miami double for the second time in his career. His final obstacle is the top ranked Spaniard, who leads their h2h series 22-17.
“I have seen a couple matches of Rafa’s [this week],” said Djokovic. “He’s hitting the ball really well, feeling confident on this court. He’s never won this tournament, so I think that is extra motivation for him.”
“I knew my game was there,” Djokovic said. “I just need to keep on moving, keep on working hard, and mentally believe that I can come back winning the big events.
This will mark the 40th time these top two competitors will cross paths on the professional tour – easily surpassing the previous Open Era record held by John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl (36). It is the only rivalry that can boast finals in all four Grand Slam finals, as well as a record 20 Masters 1000 finals. In Grand Slams, Nadal leads 8–3, yet Djokovic holds a 10-9 record overall in finals. The Serb also leads the hard court series 13-7 (10-5 on outdoor courts).
This is widely considered to be the greatest rivalry of our generation, with both players already surpassing the Open Era record for most matches contested. Apart from that, Nadal holds the most career wins over Djokovic, while the Serb is in a similar position against Rafa. Their series almost always offers a thrilling, high-quality showdown, with a competitive edge rarely seen in modern day sport.
With both Rafa and Djokovic coming off a strong fortnight in Miami, it will be interesting to see who holds the advantage tomorrow afternoon. Djokovic is clearly more comfortable and confident on this surface, having won the title on three occasions, and Nadal will be consumed with pressure, as he homes to finally end his runner-up streak at this event. Considering these two are so evenly matches on court, the result of the match will likely come down to the more consistent player, who commits the least amount of unforced errors and serves at the highest percentage.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal in Three Sets
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