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."

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
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.

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little