Nadal versus Djokovic: Scene set for clash of perfectionists

No Murray, but now the two outstanding players of the year will do battle for supremacy.

He has been the outstanding player of the year, has already won two Grand Slam titles and will be crowned world No 1 tomorrow, but nothing would mean more to Novak Djokovic than winning Wimbledon. "It's just something I've dreamed of for ever," the 24-year-old Serb said yesterday as he looked ahead to this afternoon's final against Rafael Nadal.

On the evidence of this year's head-to-head meetings between the two players the dream could well become reality. Djokovic, the outstanding player of 2011, has met Nadal in four Masters Series finals – two on clay and two on hard courts – and won them all. Indeed the Serb has lost only one match all year, to Roger Federer in the semi-finals at Roland Garros, in the course of a season which has already brought him seven titles, including the Australian Open.

Djokovic, nevertheless, appreciates the size of his task. "There is no bigger challenge at this point in our sport than playing in the Wimbledon final against Nadal," he said.

While Djokovic has had the upper hand on Nadal in recent months, the Spaniard has had it all his own way in their Grand Slam confrontations. Nadal has beaten Djokovic three times at the French Open, once at the US Open and once here, when the Serb retired in the third set of their semi-final four years ago.

"It's quite different playing Nadal in a Grand Slam because it's over the best of five sets," Djokovic said. "Physically we all know that he's superior and he's the strongest player around, the most prepared, so I'm ready for long rallies, long points. I need to be physically ready, which I am. I feel fit, and mentally obviously motivated. It's my first Wimbledon final. The four times I won against him this year can probably help me in some ways mentally prior to this match."

Nadal also has a phenomenal record on these courts. Since 2005 he has lost only twice at the All England Club, on both occasions in finals against Federer, and is on a 20-match winning streak in SW19, having won the title on his last two visits. The defending champion's record in Grand Slam finals is equally formidable. In 12 appearances in finals his only losses were those two against Federer here. If he wins today the 25-year-old Spaniard will become the second youngest man in history to win 11 Grand Slam titles after Bjorn Borg.

Grass has been the most challenging surface for Djokovic, but the way in which he won his semi-final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who put out Federer, suggests that the Serb has conquered whatever reservations he might have had about playing on it.

Nadal will not under-estimate his opponent. "His mental position over me today is probably a little bit better because he has won the last four finals against me, but I will try my best," he said. "I'm playing well, really well, but we will see what happens . I have to play aggressively. I have to play with intensity, with rhythm. That's what I'm going to try to do."

Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable