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Men's final, strap yourselves in
29 January 2012, 12:05 PM | Source: SBS, Glenn Osbourne
Nadal will go into the final an underdog, something he’s not had to worry about for most of his career, even though he’s shared 26 Grand Slam titles with Roger Federer, probably the greatest player of all time.
But Djokovic has just enjoyed the most dominant single year of tennis in decades, which culminated in three Grand Slam wins and an extraordinary 41 straight wins until the French Open semi-finals.
The Serb is also the reigning champion, having thrashed Andy Murray on this stage 12 months ago.
He’s got form against Nadal as well, having defeated him in the finals of the US Open and Wimbledon in 2011.
In all, he’s won the last six encounters.
But he’s also not quite at 100 per cent, and that’s why I’m going with Nadal tonight.
Djokovic seemed to strain a hamstring in the win over David Ferrer in the quarter-finals, and looked like he had trouble breathing at times in his win over Andy Murray in the semis.
Djokovic says he’s fine, but if there’s anyone who can exploit any physical weakness in the Joker’s game, it’s Nadal.
“There is no secret it is going to be physical again,” Djokovic says.
“I will do my best to recover. I have a day and a half. I will try to get as much sleep and get my recovery program underway and hope for the best. I think that's going to be crucial for me to recover and to be able to perform my best, because Rafa is fit. He's been playing well. He had an extra day.”
Even Nadal though isn’t buying into the theory of Djokovic being under par.
"It's funny, no? I saw the match on TV, and in the fifth set he was moving fantastically well, and they show images from two hours fifty before and seems like he was destroyed. Two hours fifty later he was in perfect condition. So is difficult to imagine that he has these problems. I don't know."
I think it’ll be a factor.
Nadal has only dropped two sets in the entire tournament so far, and with that crucial extra day’s break, he’s ready to go the distance on Rod Laver Arena.
"I am trying to play a little bit more aggressive and hit more winners.
The improvements that I want to make are not complete. But I am happy how I am doing, no? I don't know if it’s going to be enough for him."
I’m tipping Nadal in five, but either way, strap yourselves in for a classic.