It doesn't get much better than Rafael Nadal vs. Novak Djokovic with a Grand Slam title on the line.
As the other top men's tennis stars dropped before reaching the semifinals, Nadal and Djokovic stayed alive to secure a championship showdown in the U.S. Open finals. The bout marks the sixth time the two go toe-to-toe to decide a major.
While Rafael Nadal earned a commanding three-set semifinals victory over Richard Gasquet, Djokovic endured a testing thriller against Stanislas Wawrinka. Djokovic escaped with a 2-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory, but not after facing everything in Wawrinka's arsenal during an epic bout lasting more than four hours.
The two can rest up on Sunday before looking to add another first-place finish to their long list of accolades. Expect another long, exciting match between Nadal and Djokovic to continue their exhilarating feud.
Where: USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
When: Monday, Sept. 9 at 5:00 p.m. ET
Live Stream: USOpen.org
Is Playing on Hard Courts Now Easy for Nadal?
Long known as the "King of Clay," Nadal holds a monopoly on the French Open, securing eight of the last nine titles. That dominance, however, has not traditionally parlayed onto the hard courts, with Nadal claiming one major apiece at the Australian Open and U.S. Open.
But lately Nadal has shown no difficulty handling the hard surface, posting a dazzling 21-0 record this year. He has only dropped one set during the entire tournament, which should leave him much more rested than Djokovic.
While Djokovic will put his service game to the test, Nadal is far from a lost cause on the hard court. His foe has the upper hand on the surface, but Nadal has proved capable of beating anybody anywhere.
Djokovic holds a 12-6 edge in their hard-court battles, but Nadal took the last match in Canada. Just three years ago, Nadal prevailed over Djokovic at Arthur Ashe Stadium during the stars' first finals showdown.
The No. 2-ranked player in the world is often typecast as a clay-court legend who is futile everywhere else, but his pure mastering of clay sets the bar so high that Nadal's hard-court skills are deemed inferior any time he loses a match.
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Having the fresher legs could also alleviate any advantage Djokovic holds. Nadal will face more pressure to avoid breaking, but Djokovic's sterling return game may not rest at 100 percent playing two days after Wawrinka tossed him through the grinder.
Such a close contest tests a player's resolve and prepares them for more challenges, but the physical fatigue of undergoing a 21-minute game cannot be overlooked.
Prediction: Do these guys ever let us down? Buckle up for another classic, with Nadal riding his hot hand to a nail-biting victory over Djokovic in five sets.