Well, for the sixth time this year Nadal and Djokovic will meet. Every single time has been in a tournament final. 4 were at Masters 1000 tournaments (Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, and Rome) and once at Wimbledon. Djokovic has won all five meetings and Nadal has admitted that this has shaken his confidence. This will be a major factor to consider while we watch this match.
Djokovic Keys to Victory
1. Always fight: Djokovic showed an incredible amount of heart, fitness, and will to come back from two sets down to beat Roger Federer. Djokovic’s mental supremacy was unflappable for most of the early part of the year. Recently though, Djokovic has shown several cracks mentally. He has done no such thing this tournament though. He is here to win and won’t let and mental mistakes stand in his way.
2. Keep the Balls Deep: Djokovic has really hurt Nadal all year with his depth of shot. He keeps Rafa pinned behind the baseline and can move him around with strong groundstrokes until he finds an opening that will let him take the point. Rafa has really had no answer and has had tons of trouble winning points against Djokovic in baseline rallies, especially in their most recent matches.
3. No Pressure: Djokovic has gotten over just about every hump that you can think about against Nadal. He has already beaten him in a Slam final and he is now the World #1-and will remain so regardless of the outcome of this match. He can play freely like he did against Nadal in their two meetings on clay this year. He has nothing left to prove. All Djokovic has to do now is stay relaxed, play his best, and add more titles and Slams to his rapidly-growing resume.
Nadal Keys to Victory
1. Forget the Past: Djokovic has beaten Nadal five times in a row. Rafa has already admitted that it has shaken his confidence. It clearly affected his level of play in a lot of matches this summer. But Rafa looks like he is on a mission now. He has been playing very close to top form for the past two matches and will have a real chance to beat Novak if he can just concentrate on this match and play his very best.
2. Attack the Short Balls: Djokovic has really beaten Nadal by keeping him pinned behind the baseline and moving him around for the entire match. For Rafa to win he really can’t let that happen too much. That means taking any opportunity that Novak gives him and attack. If Djokovic ever leaves a ball short then Nadal has to attack it, trying to either take it as a clean winner or move into net on it. Djokovic has given him almost no opportunities in their earlier matches so Rafa can’t let any of them pass him by.
3. Serve Big: Rafa really managed to win the US Open last year because he busted out a huge serve that we haven’t seen from him before or since. I’m not saying that he needs to start serving 135 mph bombs again, but he does need to do something. He can’t let Djokovic get into too many of his service games if he wants to have a chance, and to do that he is going to need to be able to get free points on his serve.
4. Mix Things Up: I’m sure that Rafa can remember almost every point of every major match that he has ever played. And I’m sure that he knows exactly how Djokovic has beaten him in the last five meetings. He has to realize that what he has been doing just doesn’t work against Novak. He has to be willing to play a little outside of his comfort zone and maybe attack the net or hit harder and flatter if it becomes apparent that what he is doing isn’t working again.
Prediction: Djokovic in 4