Novak Djokovic may have No 1 by his name but he knows he will face the best player in the world in tonight’s US Open final.
Rafael Nadal has put together one of the most impressive seasons in tennis history despite only coming back in February following seven months out with knee problems. The Spaniard has dominated in a way he did not manage even when he won three grand slam titles in 2010.
The 27-year-old has lost only three matches, and one of those was in the final of his first tournament back. This will be a fourth consecutive US Open final for Djokovic, three of which have been against Nadal.
They have managed one title apiece in New York. Describing facing the Spaniard, Djokovic said: “It’s always the biggest challenge that you can have in our sport now. He’s the ultimate competitor.
“He’s fighting for every ball and he's playing probably the best tennis that he ever played on hard courts. “He has got many injuries on this surface, but now he looks fit. He had seven months off.
He lost three matches this year. With no doubt he’s the best player of the moment this year. So the way he’s been playing, he’s very confident, but I know how to play him. Hard court is my most successful surface. I have already played him here twice in finals. I know what I need to do.”
Speaking of meeting Djokovic in the final, Nadal said: “I prefer to play against another one. We have to be honest, no? It’s good if both of us are playing at a very good level so the match becomes great because we play long rallies, we bring our game to the limit. I hope to be ready for that. I need to keep playing very aggressive and play a very, very good match.”
The number of times Djokovic and Nadal have faced each other in their careers this far
The edge Nadal holds over Djokovic in their head-to-head
The edge Djokovic holds over Nadal in Grand Slam finals so far
The number of times Djokovic and Nadal have faced each other in Grand Slams
The edge Nadal holds over Djokovic in their Grand Slam meetings thus far
The edge Nadal holds over Djokovic on clay
The edge Djokovic holds over Nadal on hardcourts