November 11, 2013 by Parveer Mann
Originially published on backrowsports.com
It all ends here. The 2013 ATP season draws to a close at the O2 in London with the matchup that most expected. In their 39th clash (an Open Era record), Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will both faceoff for the prestigious year end championships after a tourney where both men lapped the rest of the field. And if their recent matches are any indication, we are in for some lengthy points and a champion who deserves that title.
Djokovic wins 6-3, 6-4– IT’S OVER! Djokovic outlasts Nadal winning his third ATP World Tour Finals.
The final game had the tension and drama we expected over the entire match. Both players hit some dazzling shots but once again, Nadal never had any looks at break point.
Nadal holds, Djokovic leads 5-4– Nadal turns away one Championship point to keep this match alive. However, I think Djokovic must be feeling awfully good thru this changeover as he has been the better player this entire match. He’ll serve for the title.
Djokovic leads 5-3– An unorthodox second serve down the line and Djokovic has this match nearly to the brink. Not the battle everyone expected thus far.
Djokovic leads 4-3– Novak had his looks but that legendary Rafa ‘fight’ is on full display and he pushes it to 3-4.He might have to add a wrinkle to his return game because Djokovic has had very little trouble on serve this set.
Djokovic holds, leads 4-2– Pretty clean service game for Novak. All the pressure back on Nadal’s serve, wonder what he’s thinking?
Djokovic leads 3-2– Nadal holds but he is still down the break and is really not playing well at all. According to @SI_BTBaseline, Nadal has 17 unforced errors to 4 winners!
Djokovic leads 2-1– Another early break for Novak and he’s been able to carry the momentum into this second set. We talked earlier about Nadal’s poor record in Indoor finals but Novak is 7-2 in indoor hard court finals (including 1-0 this year).
Read more about what I wrote last month when Novak lost his number one ranking in China.
Nadal leads 1-0– Another shaky start to his service game but Nadal holds. He’s got that grimace/intense scowl action going after winning the last point. It looks something like this:
Djokovic wins first set 6-3– Ace down the middle and Novak takes the first set. This match was slow to begin but the tempo and quality picked up near the end.
Nadal will have to be sharper on his serve in the second set (an un-Rafa like first serve percentage so far) and look for him to try being more aggressive with his forehand.
Djokovic leads 5-3– Wow! That’s how you break serve! Djokovic wins a spectacular rally on break point and now has the set on his racquet.
Tied 3-3– Nadal with the relatively easy hold. This is the 19th time Djokovic and Nadal have squared off in an ATP Final (tying Nadal and Federer for 2nd all-time).
Nadal breaks, Djokovic leads 3-2- The first time we see a real forehand crosscourt from Nadal and it forces a Djokovic error at deuce and Nadal follows with the break. Sloppy but drama filled so far.
Nadal holds, Djokovic leads 3-1– BIG hold for Rafa. This set could have been done really quick if Novak had been able to take advantage of that break. Still have yet to see any aggression from Nadal.
Djokovic holds for 3-0– Lopsided start so far in this #1 vs #2 matchup. Remember this is only the fifth time #1 vs. #2 have faced each other in the final of the year end championships.
2013: No. 1 Nadal vs. No. 2 Djokovic
2012: No. 1 Djokovic d. No. 2 Federer
2010: No. 2 Federer d. No. 1 Nadal
1986: No. 1 Lendl d. No. 2 Becker
1983: No. 2 McEnroe d. No. 1 Lendl
Djokovic leads 2-0– Well this looks easy. Novak rushes out to 0-40 and breaks Nadal at 15-40. Looks like Nadal isn’t totally into this match yet but you have to assume he will be eventually.
Djokovic leads 1-0– Easy service game for Novak. Whoever can end points quickly on serve may have the difference today.
– Djokovic wins the toss and will serve first. Plus, the chair ump reminds both players of the 25 second rule between points (or the rule to make Rafa play quicker) and he’s the first to do so all week. Obviously because of this:
So today, there will be Nadal fans, Djokovic fans and Lahyani fans!
– As we wait for the players to take the court, here’s a look at the O2 in it’s tennis glory. It’s a nice sea of blue in London.
– Interesting comparison between Novak’s 2011 season and Nadal’s 2013
– Both players have a ton at stake today. For Nadal, the World Tour Finals remains the elusive jewel in a career that has seen him win everything else. Moreover, he’ll have to overcome his historically poor results on indoor hard courts to do so (he’s only reached the finals at this event once before losing to Federer in 2010).
– For Djokovic, his 21 match win streak is on the line (all those coming after his loss to Nadal at the US Open) and the chance to win his third ATP year end championship in seven years. Also, it’s another chance for Djokovic to remind everyone that despite Nadal’s extraordinary year that all discussions about who’s the best on tour should include him.
– Nadal leads the all-time series (22-16) and in 2013, he is 3-2 against Djokovic. However, Djokovic won their last matchup easily in Beijing in early October.
– They’re also playing for a lot of money. The winner today gets a tidy $1.9 million payday and 1500 ATP ranking points, not bad for possibly two sets worth of work.
– Here’s the official trailer for the showdown courtesy of the ATP: