Novak Djokovic may be the No. 1 player in the world, but it is Rafael Nadal who holds the upper hand heading into the 2013 U.S. Open final.
The Spaniard is riding a tidal wave of momentum and has been destroying every opponent in his path at Flushing Meadows. He has only lost one set in the entire tournament, and he coasted into the final after beating No. 8 Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-6 (1), 6-2 in the semis.
Nadal is playing some of the best tennis of his career, which is frightening given that he has already won 12 career Grand Slams.
Meanwhile, Djokovic is limping into the final after a five-set battle against Stanislas Wawrinka. Djokovic struggled throughout the four-hour match before eventually pulling off the 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory.
While Djokovic is obviously capable of improving upon that performance, his recent history after marathon matches doesn’t bode well for his chances against Nadal.
Just a couple of months ago at Wimbledon, Djokovic survived a five-set classic to make it to the final, only to be shredded by Andy Murray. Look for a similar result today, as Nadal should be much more fresh.
Nadal has also owned Djokovic in their most recent meetings, winning five of their last six matches. He took down Djokovic in their epic 2013 French Open finale, and he won their last meeting on a hard court 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (2).
Nadal holds the edge in their career head-to-head (21-15), and his recent triumphs in this seesaw rivalry should have him confident for today’s final.
I’m expecting a tough four-set win for Nadal.