Saturday, April 21, 2012

Djokovic-Nadal XXXI: 2012 Monte Carlo Final

For the 8th consecutive time, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will meet in the final of an important ATP tournament. In the last 14 montha, the World #1 and World #2 have met in the finals of 3 major tournaments (2011 Wimbledon, 2011 US Open and 2012 Australian Open) and 4 Masters Series finals (2011 Indian Wells, 2011 Key Biscayne, 2011 Madrid, and 2011 Rome). On Sunday they will meet in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters, a title that Nadal has won a record 7 times in the last 8 years.

It will be their 31st career meeting, with Nadal leading 16-14 but having lost the last 7 (final) matches the two have contested.

If Djokovic wins this match he will basically have demonstrated that he can beat Nadal anywhere, anytime and may never lose to him again. Nadal is playing well, in his first clay tournament of the season, on the surface where he is considered the best player of all time. Nadal has not dropped a set all week long. Djokovic, on the other hand, is not playing that well, although he managed to dispatch Robin Haase in straight sets just hours after he received the distressing news that his grandfather had passed away on Thursday. Instead of withdrawing from the tournament, Djokovic rallied to beat Tomas Berdych in a 3-set semifinal.

I think this will be an excellent match, but I think one has to give the edge to Nadal this time. Djokovic does have his number, but I find it impossible to believe that anyone could beat Nadal 8 times in a row, especially in 8 consecutive finals! Djokovic will have a mental escape hatch in the death of his father. I don't think this potential loss will prevent Djokovic from beating Nadal on clay in other tournaments this season.

MadProfessah's prediction: Nadal in 3 sets.

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