July 3, 2011 in Sports

Nadal, Djokovic set to battle for Wimbledon crown

Diane Pucin Los Angeles Times
 

WIMBLEDON, England – For the first time since the 2009 Australian Open, the top two seeded players will meet in the final of a Grand Slam-level tournament today when No. 1 Rafael Nadal, aiming for his 11th major title, plays No. 2 Novak Djokovic for the Wimbledon men’s title.

Whatever the outcome, the 24-year-old Djokovic will supplant 25-year-old Nadal as No. 1 in the world. Djokovic has marked himself as best in the world by forging a 47-1 record this season.

Nadal, who is the defending champion and who has a 20-match win streak at Wimbledon, said he does not begrudge losing the computer ranking No. 1 spot.

“One guy played unbelievable in the first half of the year, so he’s the new No. 1,” Nadal said. “We can just congratulate him because what he did this part of the season is something really impressive, really fantastic.”

Though Nadal holds a 16-11 career edge over Djokovic, the Serbian star has beaten the Spaniard all four times they’ve played this year – in three sets for the title at Indian Wells; in three sets, including a final set tiebreak, in the finals of Miami; and in straight sets twice on clay, in Madrid and Rome, also in the finals.

“The four times I won against him this year can probably help me in some ways mentally,” Djokovic said.

The pair has also split the season’s first two majors. Djokovic won the Australian Open, Nadal the French Open. And though Nadal has lost to Djokovic four times this year, he’s also won all five meetings the two have had in the majors in their careers.

Djokovic pointed to one thing he needs to do well today to beat Nadal.

“Against Rafa, if I have any chances of winning,” he said, “I need to serve well and I need to be aggressive. That’s the game plan.”

If Nadal were to win his third Wimbledon title, it would also be his 11th Grand Slam-level trophy and he would be the second-youngest man (just behind Bjorn Borg) to have gathered so many at such a young age.

He would also be only five behind all-time leader Roger Federer (who has 16) though Nadal insists Federer, who turns 30 next month, will win more.


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