By Ann Liguori
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Since before the tournament, I picked Novak Djokovic to win his first US Open title. Then again, I also picked Serena! And she went ‘down under’ against Samantha Stosur of Australia in Sunday’s final.
The top two players in the men’s game have advanced to today’s final. It’s actually the first time since 1996 that the top two seeds at the US Open are meeting in the finals.
Although Rafael Nadal is playing some of his best tennis of the season these last two weeks, Djokovic continued his over-the-top impressive season with his come-from-behind five-set win over Roger Federer in his semifinal match on Saturday, saving two match points in that fifth set. Nadal said he played his best match of the season when he beat 4th seed Andy Murray in four sets in the other semifinal on Saturday.
Nadal and Djokovic have played each other 28 times! Nadal leads their over-all head-to-head 16-12; however, Djokovic has beaten Nadal the last five times they’ve played – all in 2011 – on every surface!
This final will be a rematch of last year’s final which Nadal won in four sets to win his first US Open title.
This year belongs to Djokovic as he has aptly proved by winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon (beating Nadal at Wimbledon in the finals) and five ATP Masters-1000 events and only losing two matches all year (one to Roger Federer at the French Open) and another only because he retired from his final’s match against Andy Murray due to a shoulder injury.
Djokovic showed how hungry and determined he is to win in that thrilling five set comeback against Federer. Djokovic turned his game up a few notches and was able to pull it off.
Today’s final may only come down to several points as both players are tremendous competitors and Nadal wants to defend his title as much as Djokovic wants to continue his impressive mission. It should be a battle of will and determination as much as it will be about serving, return of service, movement and coming up with dazzling winners.
But it’s Djokovic’s time. The momentum he has carried to put together such an impressive record this season, and the fact that he has beaten Nadal all five times they’ve played this year, gives the Serb the ‘mental’ edge. We should see one more win for Djokivic to top off an incredible season.