Since 2010, Rafael Nadal (six) and Novak Djokovic (five) have combined to win 11 of the 15 available Grand Slam titles. So it seems only fitting that the two most dominant players on the ATP Tour in the past four years would face each other in the last Grand Slam title of the season, the U.S. Open.
And given the year he's already had, it's only fitting that Nadal should win.
He's 53-3 this season, has won nine singles titles (including his fourth straight French Open) and earned a cool $6.8 million on the court. He's lost just one set at the US Open thus far and has beaten Djokovic in five of their last six matchups.
He should come into this match as the slightest of favorites, and I believe he'll best Djokovic in a grueling match for the ages.
But there are plenty of compelling reasons to back Djokovic instead. Nadal is a wizard on clay and excellent on grass, but he isn't nearly as dominant on hard courts. For all his success at the French Open (eight titles in the last nine years), he has just one title apiece at the Australian and U.S. Open.
And Djokovic has gotten the better of Nadal on hard courts, holding an 11-6 advantage in those matches. For what it's worth, the players have split the two meetings at the U.S. Open.
And while Nadal has been out-of-this-world good this year, Djokovic hasn't exactly been chopped liver. He's 44-8 with three singles titles (including the Australian Open), and has mostly been in control in New York, dropping just three sets.
But when in doubt, I always take the hotter player. Nadal came into the U.S. Open having won two tournaments in a row, dropping just three sets combined to do it. He's beaten Djokovic in two of their three matches this year.
He's reached the finals of 11 of his 13 events this year. Every time he takes the court, he seems to dominate.
I would be shocked if this match doesn't go to a fifth-set tiebreaker given the level of these two players and the fact that, even when he is seemingly be outplayed, Djokovic never seems to give up.
But 2013 is the year of Nadal, and he'll prove it with a U.S. Open title on Monday night.