Sunday 8 May 2011

The final we've been expecting

For the third consecutive time, a mandatory Masters 1000 tournament final will feature Rafael Nadal (def. Federer 5-7, 6-1, 6-3) and Novak Djokovic (def. Bellucci 4-6, 6-4, 6-1).

The scores look very similar - both lost the first set, both dealt a 6-1 breadstick to their opponents... The similarities don't end there. Take a look at the interviews given by Rafa and Novak after the matches.

I practically had a tear in my eye after watching that second interview. The level of respect those guys have for each other is incredible, and I think they sincerely mean everything they say about each other. Rafa probably does feel a bit of an underdog, after losing to Djokovic twice in their last Masters finals meetings. And of course, when playing against Nadal on clay - it's clear who the favourite is, even if your name is Novak.

But putting personal preferences aside, I'm seriously amazed by Rafa's humility. He's unbeatable on clay - just look at the last season, where he swept the titles in Monte Carlo, Madrid, Rome, and Roland Garros. And he started the same way this year, with the MC and Barcelona (which he didn't play in 2010) titles already under his belt. And still, when asked directly, he mantains that Novak is the favorite to win the match, being unbeaten this year.
(On a related note, Rafa's english is so good right now.)

Some stats, going into the finals:
Streaks: Rafa has 37 successive wins on clay, Nole's got 31 in wins 2011 (33 overall at the moment). One of those streaks ends tomorrow.
Head to head: Rafa leads 16-9, and 9-0 on clay. One of those 9s will become a 10 tomorrow.
Their last meeting in Madrid (SF, 2009), lasted 243 minutes (that's 4+ hours), Nole winning 125 points, and Rafa - 120 points and the whole match.
So what will tomorrow bring?

The answer is one of the weirdest trophies imaginable.

(Player photos by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)


  1. Dear Anna, I learned something important today and I thought I should tell you, in case you didn't already found out by yourself- Nole equaled Borg's record of 31 consecutive wins at the start of the season! Yes, it's hard to believe that all of a sudden it's 31 and not 33, like we were all mislead to think, but Greg Sharko the "Tennis Guru" posted an article today where he clearly states that it's 31-

  2. What, you mean the article where it also says Novak is 25 years old and ranked 27 (highest ranking 22)?
    (Look for the comparison table)
    Excuse me while I go and invent some stats of my own :P

  3. Well I didn't read the whole article obviously, but the fact that they made some terrible mistakes doesn't necessarily mean that they are wrong about this one. Anyway, I don't really care if it's 31 or 33 or if Nole breaks it or at least equals the record if it is indeed 33, but he probably will because he needs one more win to equal it and two to pass Borg. That is because the record by itself is not important. What is important is what the winning streak brings with it- titles and ranking points.