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Wimbledon 2011 Finals: The Battle of the Number 1's

660   //    03 Jul 2011, 12:31 IST

It is fitting that the biggest stage of them all will be graced by the top 2 players of the world. When Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic come out on Centre Court tonight, the world will applaud these 2 fine athletes at the peak of their careers. They will smile, speak a few words, hit a few balls to get into their rhythm, wish each other luck, and shake hands at the net. That is when the battle will begin. A battle which could go a long way to decide the shift of power in the tennis world.

If anything, Wimbledon has given the ATP rankings a good name. 3 out of the top 4 played the semis, and after 126 players bowed out of the draw, we are left with seeds 1 and 2. And there’s simply no doubt that Rafa and Nole have been the players to beat this season. Both have had some eyebrow-raising moments in the last 2 weeks, but are deserved finalists.

Novak has found his inner peace and strung together a mesmerizing 47-1 record this season, numbers which were unheard of, even during the Swiss maestro’s prime. His only loss to the same man might have derailed the Djokovic of old, but this new version(I like to call him Djoke2.0) is simply not going to go away. Wimbledon might not have been the smoothest of rides for the Serbian, but if his last outing against Tsonga is anything to go by, boy are we in for a treat tonight. Jo-Wilfried could not have played a better match, and anyone(that includes Rafa) would have struggled to stand up to the barrage and ferocity of the frenchman on Friday. Such is the Djoke2.0 that the balls kept coming back at Tsonga, and with purchase. Djoke2.0 would not be denied his first shot at the Wimbledon title, and he would not be denied the world number 1 ranking.

Which brings us to the current world no.1(albeit for a day) and the relentless, ruthless, insatiable enigma called Rafael Nadal. With an injury plagued season, he has managed 1 grand slam title, 1 masters 1000 title, 1 masters 500 title, 4 masters 1000 runner-ups and now a second grand slam final. Not bad eh? By his own admission, he would have been number 1 any other year, but for the “impossible” year Djoker2.0 has had. And although he would relinquish that coveted no.1 spot tomorrow, today will be about proving a point to himself, that he can beat Djoke2.0. If he replicates his semifinal performance against Murray, even the Djoke2.0 might be left gasping for answers. More than the shot making abilities of Rafa, his mental strength and resolve to simply run down every ball, and his un-quenchable thirst to win will be the pillars of his game today.

Rafa was vanquished when they played on hard and clay this season. If Djoke2.0 repeats such a result tonight, there would be few who would doubt that the Djoker era in tennis has begun. He dreamt of a Wimbledon title from the age of 5 and says it was the reason he picked up a racquet. That it comes with the opportunity of stamping his authority at the top of the pile is the biggest of incentives. However, if Rafa manages to notch up a 3rd Wimbledon title, and 11th overall slam, there would be a serious look back at the GOAT debate. The humble champion says he never thinks about 11 or 12 or 15 or more importantly 16. We all know you don’t think about it Rafa, but you sure make us do. The match promises much. Let’s see how this shapes up.

27 times they have met already, Nadal boasts a healthy 16-11 record. Nadal 1-0 Djoker.

On closer observation, the last 9 meetings have been 7-2 in favor of Nole. Nadal 1-1 Djoker.

They have played just 1 grand slam final between them, Nadal poaching the US Open last year to complete his career grand slam. Nadal 2-1 Djoker.

This year they have met 4 times, in 4 finals, with Djoke2.0 coming up trumps each time. Nadal 2-2 Djoker.

Streaks: 47-1 to the Djoker. Something Nadal can’t even dream of. Nadal 2-3 Djoker

Streaks: 20-0 at Wimbledon. Something Djoker can’t dream of. At least not today. Nadal 3-3 Djoker.

Groundstrokes? Well, the Nadal forehand obviously. Nadal 4-3 Djoker.

But the Djoker backhand anyday when compared to the Nadal backhand. Nadal 4-4 Djoker.

Movement and court coverage? Nothing to choose between them. Nadal 5-5 Djoker.

Serve? Nothing to choose again. Nadal 6-6 Djoker.

And as we know at 6 games all, we have a Tie-breaker:):)!!  Here’s hoping that the match lives up to its hype, and we get a fantastic 5 setter.

Prediction: Rafa to spoil the Serbian party celebrations and reassert his dominance on the biggest stage of them all.


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