US Open Tennis 2013: Key Factors That Will Decide Men's Final
Fans could not have hoped for a better men's final at the U.S. Open than No. 1 Novak Djokovic against No. 2 Rafael Nadal.
Not only are these players the two best in the world, there is a clear gap at this point between them and anyone else on tour. Djokovic has only lost three sets in the entire tournament, while Nadal has remained flawless on his run to the final.
While Nadal has won five of the last six meetings between the two, he has been fortunate to play most of those on clay courts. Prior to that, Djokovic won seven in a row against the Spanish star.
No matter who wins, the battle for the fourth Grand Slam of the year is certain to be exciting. Still, the match will come down to these factors.
Who Can Make Fewer Mistakes?
This seems obvious, but errors are likely to decide this match. When two elite players come together, it is often the poor play that stands out over the great play.
Unforced errors are something that has hurt Djokovic in the last couple of rounds. After averaging only 6.3 per set in the first four rounds, he has 10.1 per set in the last two matches. Meanwhile, his amount of winners have not changed much.
Unsurprisingly, this has led to the three lost sets in the tournament.
Meanwhile, Nadal has stayed relatively steady over the course of the event. However, he did struggle to handle himself in his previous loss to Djokovic this year, including a few double faults and errors.
Against a tough opponent, you never want to beat yourself. Still, that could end up being the difference in this match.
Which Player Will Be Better at the Net?
When it comes to serving and returning, these two players are pretty evenly matched. The difference will be which player can do a better job of finishing rallies.
Throughout the tournament, Djokovic has excelled at going up to the net and winning points consistently. He won 73 percent of points against Stanislas Wawrinka, 69 percent against Mikhail Youzhny and went an incredible 28-of-30 at the net against Marcel Granollers.
These are three solid performances against quality opponents, and this is something that Nadal should be aware of throughout the match.
Of course, Nadal is no slouch either. He usually prefers to sit back and defend, but he is more than capable of going to the net and finishing off points. He must remain aggressive in this match to get winners and prevent Djokovic from doing the same.
Will it Go to a Fifth Set?
As good as Djokovic has been this year, he has struggled when the match is on the line.
While he was able to outlast Wawrinka in the semifinals, he entered the week with only a 7-6 record in decisive sets in 2013.
Whether the problem has to do with conditioning, pressure or something else, this is not a good mark for the No. 1 player in the world.
On the other hand, Nadal has excelled at these points, totaling a 12-1 record on the year. One of those wins was against Djokovic in the semifinal at Roland Garros, when the King of Clay outlasted his opponent with a 9-7 win in the final set.
Nadal has great conditioning and is fresher heading into the match, making him the favorite to win if this goes to a fifth set.
Note: All statistics courtesy of ATPWorldTour.com.
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