Saturday, April 20, 2013

MONTE CARLO 2013 Final: Djokovic-Nadal XXXIV

In a repeat of last year's final, 8-time defending champion Rafael Nadal will face World #1 Novak Djokovic on Sunday at the 2013 Monte Carlo Rolex Masters 1000 tournament in Monaco. As I predicted last night, Nadal was able to defeat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets, although the Frenchman did put a bit of a scare into the Spaniard by coming back from 1-5 down in the 2nd set (saving four match points!) to force a tiebreak which he lost 7-3, along with the match 6-3 7-6(3). In the other semifinal Djokovic played the irrepressible Fabio Fognini, who was playing in his first Masters Series-level semifinal after dispatching Richard Gasquet and Tomas Berdych in consecutive rounds. Djokovic looked very sharp and dismissed the hunky Italian in under an hour 6-1 6-2.

Sunday will be the 34th meeting in the burgeoning rivalry between Djokovic and Nadal. Their last 10 meetings have been in final with Nadal winning the last 3 and Djokovic winning the first 7. Overall, Nadal lead 19-14 and 8-7 in tour finals. But, amazingly, Djokovic has beaten Nadal in two clay court finals (2011 Madrid Masters and 2011 Rome Masters) but has lost to him in four clay court finals, including the 2009 Monte Carlo final and the 2012 Monte Carlo final. Nadal leads 11-2 in clay court matches while Djokovic leads 11-5 on hard courts. Last year the Serbian was reeling from a personal crisis and lost relatively easily 6-3 6-1 to the King of Clay. This year Djokovic's difficulties will be more physical than mental. He injured his ankle ina Davis Cup match versus Sam Querrey two weeks ago and until hours before he played his first match on Wednesday, it was unclear whether the World #1 would even play the tournament. He won a scratchy match against Mikhail Youzhny 4-6 6-1 6-4 but has looked sharp during the business end of the tournament. Nadal surprisingly lost a set against fast-improving Grigor Dimitrov in his quarterfinal on his way to his 9th consecutive final here.

However, he is playing the King of Clay, who has reached 5 consecutive finals this year (winning three of them so far) and who has won this tournament 8 times in a row, something no one has ever done at any tournament. In fact, Nadal has won 44 matches in a row in Monte Carlo including the now classic 5-set tussle with Roger Federer in 2008, which some might argue is almost as good as their 2008 match in the Wimbledon final a few months later. Nadal wants to win in order to increase his total of the number of career ATP Masters 1000 shields from the current record total of 22, win his 9th title here and also not lose ranking points.

Djokovic, on the other hand, probably feels pretty good just to get the final and can probably go home and rest his ankle after this tournament until the Madrid-Rome double starts in two weeks. It is on that terrain that he will need to bolster his claim that he can prevent Nadal from winning his 8th French Open title.

MadProfessah's prediction: Nadal.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin