Rafael Nadal: Spaniard Should be Praying for Andy Murray to Advance to Final
And after what Djokovic did to him in 2011, could you blame him?
Djokovic absolutely owned Nadal last year, finishing 6-0 against him and beating him in two Grand Slam finals (at the US Open and Wimbledon).
Before last year, Nadal might not have cared. He was 16-7 against Djokovic coming into 2011 and was firmly entrenched as the game's top player.
Such is no longer the case.
He's had success against Murray, however, with a lifetime 13-5 record against him, including a 4-1 mark last year.
So don't get sucked into the "Djokovic is hurting—Nadal will definitely want him to advance over Murray" hype. He'll be just fine. From CNN:
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"Luckily for me it wasn't something that stayed there for long time," the four-time grand slam winner told reporters after reaching his seventh straight grand slam semifinal.
"It was just a sudden pain ... David makes you run, makes you play an extra shot, makes you earn your points."
So, are you curious to know how the Djoker has drummed up so much success against Nadal recently? Here's a glimpse into his strategy against Nadal from Craig O'Shannessy of The New York Times, who broke down Djokovic's blueprint after September's U.S. Open:
Djokovic played very close to the baseline to counter Nadal’s heavy forehand, which typically pushes opponents back and delivers shorter, easier balls for Nadal to feast on.
Standing up in the court neutralized Nadal’s forehand and also enabled Djokovic to go down the line to find Nadal’s backhand at will.
It ain't broke, so I wouldn't expect the Djoker to fix it if the two face off again in the final. And while no competitor worth their salt would ever admit that they feared an opponent, I don't doubt there is a part of Nadal that would feel more confident if it was Murray who advanced to the final.
You can't blame Nadal for that.
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