The final ATP tournament of the year comes down to the world’s top two players on Monday in London. It’s Rafael Nadal vs. Novak Djokovic for the title.
Something will have to give when Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic collide for the 39th time in their careers in the title match of the World Tour Finals on Monday afternoon. Nadal has been the best player this season and has clinched the year-end world No. 1 ranking. Djokovic, though, has been the dominant man from start to finish this fall.
Since losing the U.S. Open final to Nadal, Djokovic has won 21 consecutive matches. The second-ranked Serb triumphed in Beijing, Shanghai, and Paris to storm into London with incredible momentum. Although it hasn’t been easy, he has not looked back. Djokovic scored three-set round-robin wins over Roger Federer, Juan Martin Del Potro, and Richard Gasquet before hammering Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3, 6-3 in Sunday’s semifinals.
Nadal compiled a perfect round-robin record at the World Tour Finals for the second time in his career and he is through to his second final at this event. The Spaniard beat Wawrinka, David Ferrer, and Tomas Berdych–the latter in three sets–then took out Federer 7-5, 6-3 on Sunday. Nadal is an incredible 75-6 for the season and four of his 10 titles are of the hard-court variety.
“I hope to be ready for that for the last remaining match,” the top seed said. “I know it’s going to be a difficult one. But I will try my best. I need to play my best match to have a chance tomorrow.”
Nadal generally says that even when facing someone outside the Top 100, but in this case it is the truth. Although he leads the head-to-head series 22-16, Djokovic owns a 12-7 edge on hard courts. Included in Djokovic’s unblemished fall streak is a 6-3, 6-4 drubbing of Nadal in the Beijing final.
Djokovic’s two-handed backhand down the line, which is the best in the business, could be the difference in this showdown. He has been timing it expertly this week and he can use it to counter his opponent’s heavy topspin to the ad side. Djokovic can also handle Nadal’s spin serve out wide better than anyone. At the same time, Nadal is playing too well, is too tough of a competitor, and the surface is not playing fast enough for this to be anything other than an appropriately thrilling end to 2013.
Pick: Djokovic in 3