Super Sunday: Day 13 preview
Originally published on: 03/07/11 10:50
Men’s tennis has enjoyed a whirlwind of popularity in recent years, with the Federer – Nadal rivalry triggering interest from all four corners of the globe. But this year, Novak Djokovic emerged from the shadows as a serious competitor to the duopoly at the top and the Serb, who holds a 47-1 record on the season, will stop at nothing when he goes in search of his maiden Wimbledon title.
The last time a name other than Nadal or Federer was etched on the Wimbledon trophy was in 2002, when Lleyton Hewitt saw off David Nalbandian in straight sets. If Djokovic can replicate Hewitt’s achievements on the grass he will become the first Serb ever to lift the title at SW19.
Djokovic will be crowned World No.1 on Monday morning regardless of today’s outcome but to pick up, what he calls, his ‘dream title’ would cap off his remarkable season to date.
The Serb feels he holds the mental advantage going into the final after getting the better of Nadal four times this season – twice on hard courts and twice on clay – but the 24-year-old is not forgetting the fact that he has never beaten him at a Slam in six attempts.
Djokovic said: “Well, it is quite different playing Nadal in a Grand Slam because it’s a best of five. So physically we all know that he’s superior and he’s the strongest player around, you know, most prepared.
“So I’m ready for long rallies, you know, long points. I need to be physically ready, which I am. I feel fit in this moment, and mentally obviously motivated.”
Interestingly, Djokovic has never won a tournament on grass before, and if he does win today he would become only the third person to win their first grass-court title at Wimbledon. The other two were Michael Stich in 1991 and Andre Agassi in 1992.
Nadal, on the other hand, knows all about winning on grass and every time he collects a fresh title, another statistic is rolled out. Victory today would see him collect his 11th Grand Slam, equalling Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver’s tally, and he would also match Borg’s record of three back-to-back titles at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. The 25-year-old, who beat Tomas Berdych in last year’s final, currently holds a 20-game winning streak at Wimbledon, which began in 2008.
Today’s finalists have met no fewer than 27 times and Nadal holds the advantage with 16 wins to Djokovic’s 11.
Whether you’re enjoying this game in historic 3D or you are listening to it on the radio, prepare yourself for a titanic tussle between two greats of the game.