Blogs & Opinion


US Open: Rafa Nadal a marginal favourite against Novak Djokovic

Barry Cowan Posted 8th September 2013 view comments

I have seen most of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic's previous matches and they tend to average an hour a set, so Monday's US Open final should be another long encounter.

Rafa and Novak are currently the best two players in the world and thoroughly deserve to be in the final after the way they have played in New York over the last two weeks.

But the outcome of this event is becoming increasingly difficult to pick; for the opening 12 days of the tournament I thought Nadal was going to win, but after Saturday's semi-finals I'm not so sure.

Nadal: seemed jittery in semi-final with Gasquet, says Barry

Nadal: seemed jittery in semi-final with Gasquet, says Barry

I am going to stick with Rafa, though, because of the momentum he has got and the monopoly he has held over Novak of late, since losing their five-set epic at the 2012 Australian Open final in Melbourne.

Even though Djokovic won that, Nadal believed he had found the formula to beat his rival - and he has been proved correct, winning five of their last six meetings on the ATP Tour.

This contest will not be won physically; it will be won by the player who is more aggressive and courageous.

Barry Cowan
Quotes of the week

US OPEN

Men's Final
9.45pm, Mon, Sky Sports 1

Nadal is supremely confident, while Djokovic has had a few vulnerable moments - highlighted in some of the big points during his semi-final with Stanislas Wawrinka - and has the added issue of trying to stay at world number one.

Novak, though - as he proved in 2011 - can match Rafa physically and when you go deep into a big match and the pressure intensifies that can be telling, but I don't think this contest will be won physically.

It will be won by the player who is more aggressive and courageous and one of the standout things about Nadal's hard-court season, at venues like Montreal, Cincinnati and in the early stages at Flushing Meadows, has been how heavy he is hitting the ball.

Pivotal

However, he didn't do that against Richard Gasquet in the last four and looked slightly nervous over the first two sets, while I think the seemingly-draining five-setter Djokovic had with Wawrinka will actually help him on Monday night.

He was really struggling with his forehand against the Swiss and also doubting himself and berating his box, but in the fourth and fifth sets he was immense and that 21-minute game at 1-1 in set five could be pivotal for him.

Novak played some top stuff after that and even though he is still not as secure on the really big points as he was, he had that problem against Bernard Tomic at Wimbledon in 2011 and still went on to beat Rafa in the final.

Djokovic appointed Ivan Lendl's former coach Wojciech Fibak to his set-up before the US Open but I don't think the Pole has made a huge difference throughout this tournament and I don't expect any change-ups for the final with Rafa.

What Novak will want to change, though, are the big matches with Nadal this year, where he was beaten in the semi-finals at Roland Garros in the fifth set and lost in a tiebreak in the third set at the Montreal Masters.

Djokovic will be the underdog on Monday, but while I would have said Rafa was a 75-25 favourite, I now think his odds are just 55-45 - and it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if Novak won.

Watch Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic lock horns in the 2013 US Open final, from 9.45pm, Monday, Sky Sports 1.

back to top

Other Tennis Experts:

Latest Posts in Tennis:

Barry Cowan

Barcelona bounce

Barry Cowan says Rafa Nadal must bounce back in Barcelona and hails the form of Stan Wawrinka....

Mark Petchey

Fillip for Ferrer

Mark Petchey marvels at David Ferrer's win over Rafael Nadal but downplays it's long-term significance....

Latest News RSS feeds

Ferrer suffers Barcelona exit

Four-time finalist David Ferrer suffered a shock exit from the Barcelona Open after losing to Teymuraz Gabashvili.

Rosol makes successful start

Lukas Rosol made a solid start to his defence of the Nastase Tiriac Trophy in Bucharest after beating Filippo Volandri.

Tears for Murray after honour

Andy Murray has been granted the freedom of Stirling on an emotional return to Scotland.

Hantuchova stutters in Morocco

Top seed and wild card Daniela Hantuchova stuttered her way past world No 176 Renata Voracova in Morocco.

Sharapova struggles through

Defending champion Maria Sharapova edged out Lucie Safarova in the first round of the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

Features

Greg Rusedski is the right man to mentor Kyle Edmund, writes Raz Mirza

Greg Rusedski is the right man to mentor Kyle Edmund, writes Raz Mirza

Former US Open finalist and world No 4 Greg Rusedski knows the potential of teen sensation Kyle Edmund better than anybody and will enhance his game in a key period of his tennis career.

Barry Cowan looks ahead to the Barcelona Open and reflects on injuries to Laura Robson and Novak Djokovic

Barry Cowan looks ahead to the Barcelona Open and reflects on injuries to Laura Robson and Novak Djokovic

This is a massive week for Rafa Nadal in Barcelona - he simply has to win.

Greg Rusedski - Stanislas Wawrinka could end year as 'shock' World No1

Greg Rusedski - Stanislas Wawrinka could end year as 'shock' World No1

Greg Rusedski says Stanislas Wawrinka could end the year as 'shock' World No1 after beating Roger Federer in Monte Carlo.