Rafael Nadal: Will He Beat Novak Djokovic to Retain His US Open Title?

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Rafael Nadal: Will He Beat Novak Djokovic to Retain His US Open Title?
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

I had written an article earlier that if Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray are on opposite sides of the draw, one of them would win the title.

Had the two young men actually been drawn on opposite sides, we would have seen a Nadal-Murray final.

But unfortunately they were drawn on the same side, something which has happened so often that I am inclined to question the tournament alignment.

If they had been on opposite sides, Nadal would have eliminated Roger Federer in the semifinal and Murray would have eliminated Djokovic in the last four.

Murray has developed a game capable of beating both Djokovic and Federer as long as he doesn't meet them in the final of a grand slam.

So now that we have a Nadal-Djokovic final, if we look at past results, a Djokovic win would appear more likely.

It is clear that just as Nadal structured his game to beat Federer, Djokovic has structured his game to beat Nadal. Earlier, he was hampered by his fitness but now that he seems to have overcome those problems with a gluten-free diet or the Egg or by getting a hotline to the Help Desk on God's table (who knows, stranger things have happened), Nadal is at a serious disadvantage going into the final.

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He will no doubt go back to the drawing board to find the answers to Djokovic's questions but clearly he has had no time for that this year.

In addition to suddenly having to deal with an invincible Djokovic, poor Nadal has had to deal with viruses and injuries, which have cast a gigantic question mark over his fitness.

His collapse at the press conference last Sunday did not give his fans any reason to think he could or should be the favorite for this year's title. I had certainly written him off.

So does this mean that we can as well award the title to Djokovic straightaway?

No. First of all, Djokovic doesn't seem as invincible as before judging by his performance against Tipsarevic and Federer. Had he met Murray in the semifinal, he would definitely have lost.

Secondly, Nadal seems more confident and his backhand seems to be better. There were spells against Murray when it looked as if the Mallorcan was playing on his preferred surface of clay. He seemed able to get to every ball, sending returns back to a befuddled Murray, who was throwing everything but the kitchen sink at his opponent.

What really gave me hope that Nadal may defend his title was his spirited revolt against the tournament for subjecting the bottom half players to an unjust schedule and expecting them to play on a wet court risking life and limb.

Somehow he seemed to be the "Rafa" of old.

If he can somehow get into his grand slam intensity and focus, I think he has a very good chance to finally get the better of the man who has beaten him in five finals this year including at Wimbledon.

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