The final day of the 125th Wimbledon Championships has two high-profile matches lined up for us couch potatoes. So keep those chips and sodas ready as we embark upon a thrill-a-minute ride guaranteed to spark up your 4th of July weekend.
The first of the two matches is the highly anticipated clash between the two best players in the world and the top two seeds at Wimbledon.
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have faced each other 27 times in total, with the Spaniard winning 16 of those clashes.
That record gets even better when narrowed down to Grand Slams, in which Nadal enjoys a 5-0 lead. The last time the pair met at Wimbledon was in the 2007 semifinals, when Djokovic retired halfway through the match.
However, Djokovic has enjoyed a stellar season so far—he's won 47 out of the 48 matches he's played. His only loss this season came against Roger Federer in the semifinals of Roland Garros.
More impressively, Djokovic has beaten Nadal four times this year—all in finals. Two of those wins came on the hard court while the other two came on Nadal's favorite, clay.
So, there's no doubt that Djokovic has what it takes to beat Nadal, even though all those wins came in three-set matches. Earlier, it could have been argued that Djokovic just doesn't have the mettle to go through a five-set match. But he's a fully rejuvenated man this year and also has the added inspiration of being the world No. 1 going into the final.
Djokovic has striven hard to finally break the Federer-Nadal duopoly of men's tennis, which has seen the illustrious pair share 26 Grand Slams and trade the world No. 1 spot for the last six years.
The new, gluten-free Djokovic is serving hard, returning even harder, and rallying the hardest. His movement on the court has been phenomenal and his stamina is just incomparable to the huffing and puffing man we were so used to in the past.
The only flaw in Djokovic's game is his inability to deal with high-pressure situations at times. This was evident in the French Open semifinal against Federer and his more recent third-round encounter against Marcos Baghdatis at SW19.
Djokovic has a tendency to crumble under pressure, especially on big occasions. This is something he's going to have to work on before his first-ever Wimbledon final—Baghdatis may have allowed him to come back into the match, but that is not a favor he can expect from Rafael Nadal.
The Spaniard has been invincible lately. After the losses to Djokovic early in the season, Nadal regrouped and went all-guns-blazing into the French Open—his favorite Grand Slam. Nadal won the Coupe des Mousquetaires for the sixth time in his career by beating Roger Federer in the final.
A grueling clay-court season didn't stop Nadal from entering the Queen's tournament before Wimbledon. This was where the Majorcan first displayed signs of fatigue and exited in the quarterfinals at the hands of Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
But Nadal began his Wimbledon title defense with vigor and was untroubled until his fourth-round clash against the 2009 U.S. Open champion, Juan Martin del Potro. Nadal braved an injured heel and an inspired 6'6" Argentine to prevail in four intense sets.
The injury raised fears about a possible withdrawal, but Nadal wasn't about to let go of his title defense so easily. He took pain meds and fought his way to a fifth Wimbledon final in six years.
Nadal has been toppled by Djokovic as the world No. 1, and the ranking will stay that way regardless of the result on Sunday. The Spaniard will certainly have a point to prove to the ATP ranking system, but, considering Nadal's humble nature, I wouldn't go as far as to say that revenge will be on his mind.
Djokovic will himself fight to justify his new tag and will be keen to maintain it for as long as possible.
As clichéd as it sounds, tennis is sure to be the winner of this potentially enthralling encounter. I can't wait for play to begin!
Mixed Doubles Final: Jurgen Melzer/Iveta Benesova vs. Mahesh Bhupathi/Elena Vesnina (Sunday, right after the men's final)
After the men's final, Center Court will be witness to the mixed doubles final between ninth seeds Jurgen Melzer and Iveta Benesova and the fourth-seeded pair of Mahesh Bhupathi and Elena Vesnina.
Indian veteran Bhupathi has already won two Wimbledon mixed doubles titles—with Mary Pierce in 2005 and Elena Likhovtseva in 2002. This year, Bhupathi returns to the final with another Elena, this time a 24-year-old Russian who won the women's doubles title here last year.
The Indo-Russian pair come up against ninth seeds Jurgen Melzer and Iveta Benesova for the title after the latter pair beat eighth seeds Daniel Nestor and Chan Yung-Jan 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals. Incidentally, Melzer won the men's doubles title last year.