Get ready, tennis fans. An epic conclusion is brewing at Flushing Meadows as the 2013 U.S. Open draws closer to its end.
Andy Murray became the second star to suffer a straight-set defeat when he fell to Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarterfinals Thursday. Earlier in the week, seventh-seed Roger Federer was unexpectedly dispatched by Spaniard Tommy Robredo.
Now, the potential for another final showdown between the two best men's players in the world is looming over Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Those two men—Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic—have had their share of thrilling finales in the past. Flushing Meadows has been privy to a couple of them.
Both have semifinals hurdles to leap, but an untimely defeat seems unlikely considering their current level of play. That confidence isn’t meant to discount the efforts or talents of Wawrinka—2-14 against Djokovic—or Richard Gasquet—0-10 against Nadal. But it’s a testament to the quality of players we're talking about.
So, assuming the two proceed to the final, what makes this duel different than any other between the two giants?
The rivals are currently split in their previous U.S. Open finals matchups, so there’s a good amount of pride at stake. Djokovic also won their most recent encounter in four sets back in 2011.
Despite Djokovic being ranked as the world No. 1 and earning the tournament’s top seed, Nadal has captured headlines as a player to be reckoned with in New York.
The crafty Spaniard is playing the best tennis of his life on hard courts, and that’s putting it mildly. He has blown through competition on the surface this summer, conquering everyone in his path—including Djokovic in an August semifinal thriller in Montreal.
But if there’s anyone who can slow him down, it’s Djoker. Although the Serbian sensation doesn’t have the advantage in the series between the two (15-21), he has consistently performed better against Nadal than anyone else has. From 2011 to mid-2012, Djokovic won seven straight in the series. But that success hasn't come recently, as Nadal has triumphed in five of their last six matches.
In Grand Slam head-to-head encounters, the two are neck and neck, but the Spaniard holds a 7-3 advantage. Although, his rival does have a 2-3 advantage in Grand Slam finals matchups.
A win for Nadal would be a huge step for him to cement his superiority over Djokovic once and for all, proving his dominance extends past the clay courts he admires so dearly. Given those implications and all their past battles, this will definitely go down as one of the most memorable matches of the year—possibly more.