Greg Rusedski: Hard to separate rivals in all-time classic
How The Men Match Up
Sunday 03 July 2011
I'd say they are pretty equal. Nadal being the lefty has that small advantage of the slice out wide to the ad court, which we've seen him use once in a while to mix it up, and he can use that body serve that goes into the forehand to tie up Djokovic.
Return of serve
You've got to say Djokovic here. He has one of the best returns in the world on first serve, with Murray. On second there's minimal difference with Nadal, who also can really attack the second.
I'd give Nadal the better forehand and Djokovic the backhand, even though Nadal's is great too. Really, the whole final is so close in all these areas. Nadal probably plays the drop shot better.
Movement and fitness
These are probably the two best movers in the world. Nadal hasn't lost for 20 matches at Wimbledon and is maybe just a fraction more comfortable than Djokovic, who only looked happy moving on grass for the first time in the semi-final against Tsonga. That's been his problem at Wimbledon down the years, although when beating Tsonga he actually looked as confident as he is on the other surfaces and played the best grass-court match I've seen him play. Rafa didn't show any sign of a foot injury in beating Murray; the painkillers must be doing their job.
Djokovic has been sublime this year and occasionally sensational. In the semi-final on Friday he passed up two match points in the third set and went on to lose it, but didn't let it bother him and just steamrollered Tsonga in the fourth. Mentally that shows something. But I've never seen anyone in my entire life concentrate and focus like Nadal, even if he is carrying a little injury. He's a phenomenon both physically and mentally.
The key for Nadal is finding a winning formula against Djokovic, which has been a problem in their four matches this year. He needs to work out what he needs to do. We've seen him in the other matches lift the ball up high, which is a negative. On the other surfaces he's not been quite sure whether to attack or to counterpunch, and on grass he's got to go after it a bit more. Djokovic is the only man I've seen who can say to Nadal: "I can run with you, I can stay with you", and he won't feel the pressure because many pundits will say Nadal should win. But Djokovic is the new No 1 from tomorrow, he's only lost one match in 47 this season and beaten Rafa four times, beaten Federer, beaten Murray and won his second Grand Slam. In percentage terms I'd go 51-49 for Rafa. I think it could be one of the all-time classics, it could be electrifying. Let's hope so.
Greg Rusedski is commentating at Wimbledon for BBC Television
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