The 2011 Wimbledon men’s singles final starts tomorrow (Sunday 3 July), at 2pm local time in London. To watch the tennis in Singapore just add 7 hours, therefore the matches will kick off at 9pm. The final is between the new World No.1 Novak DJOKOVIC and defending Wimbledon champion Rafael NADAL in what will be their 28th head-to-head meeting.
Nadal is the World No.1 for one last day before Djokovic takes that off him tomorrow when the new rankings are released regardless of who wins the Wimbledon singles final. Djokovic trailed Nadal by just 65 ATP ranking points coming into Wimbledon and has earned a minimum of 480 additional points by going one step further than the his 2010 semi final result. Nadal must win the title to maintain his ranking points tally and because he won Wimbledon last year, he cannot gain any more points.
A victory by Nadal would earn him £1,100,000 in prize money and 2,000 ATP ranking points leaving him 415 points behind Djokovic. If Djokovic can win his first Wimbledon singles title from his first final, a la Petra Kvitova, he would gain a further 800 ATP ranking points, whilst Nadal would lose 800 points. In that case, Djokovic would have a 2,015 point lead over Nadal who would receive 1,200 ranking points as the runner-up and £550,000 in prize money.
In terms of strokes, Nadal definitely produces a greater amount of forehand winners than Djokovic on average. On the other hand, Djokovic certainly produces a greater amount of backhand winners than Nadal on average. Look for Nadal to try to play his strongest shot, the forehand, into Djokovic’s weaker ground stroke, the forehand. Overall, there will be a lot of respect for each others strongest wings, so expect to see quite a lot of Nadal backhand to Djokovic forehand exchanges.
Djokovic holds the edge in having more efficiently produced ground strokes, flatter strokes with more penetration through his opponent’s side of the court and being able to close the gaps on his own side of the court. Djokovic’s greater equality of his ground stroke prowess gives him the edge on faster surfaces like grass and hard courts. He also holds the edge when opportunities arise to play higher speed, flatter strokes into the strength of his opponent, which can be decisive in who holds the upper hand in baseline exchanges.
Nadal plays with more topspin, especially from his forehand making it more difficult for him to rush Djokovic. Nadal also runs around far too many backhands which opens up more gaps on his side of the net. In a testament to the greatness of Nadal he has the uncanny knack of finding a way to win have the despite these disadvantages.
Djokovic leads the ATP Tour in pretty much every aspect in 2011, including having won 7 singles titles and posting 47 wins to only 1 loss this year. The only loss came in the semi finals at Roland Garros against Roger Federer on the clay. In a year full of personal bests results and first time achievements for Djokovic, he will be looking for his first win title at Wimbledon and first victory against Nadal on grass.
Nadal held a 16-7 positive winning record over Djokovic, including a 9-0 record on clay and 2-0 record on grass at the end of 2010. In 2011 Djokovic has won all four of their matches in a row to improve to 11-16. The last two wins by Djokovic were especially impressive because they were in straight sets, in Masters 1000 singles finals and on clay!
Nadal is the clear favourite from here on in given he has proven so many times in the past that he almost always comes through with a title from this stage of a Grand Slam singles event. Nadal won his 10th Grand Slam singles last month at Roland Garros and will strip every last thing of what he has to bite into his 3rd Wimbledon winner’s trophy in a row.
Nadal was the runner-up at Wimbledon to Roger Federer in 2006 and in 2007 before reversing the result against Federer in 2008. In 2009 Nadal missed Wimbledon with an injury before returning to win last year’s title in straight sets against Tomas Berdych. Nadal’s record in Grand Slam singles finals is 10-2. The amazing Nadal completed his career Grand Slam by claiming his first US Open last year and is unbeaten at Wimbledon in his last 20 matches.
Djokovic has proven he can beat Nadal and has won two Grand Slam titles to date, as well as going for his 5th straight victory over Nadal this year. Djokovic won at the Australian Open earlier this year and in 2008. This is his 5th Grand Slam single final after being a runner-up at the US Open in 2007 and in 2010. The two Grand Slam finals Nadal has lost were both at Wimbledon, which will be a concern for Nadal and a great boost for Djokovic’s self-belief.
Nadal has the more impressive numbers overall on every count, whilst it is all Djokovic this year making this match a potentially epic final not to be missed. It promises to very closely contested in which case, it will come down to who plays best in any tie-break and can convert the greater number of break points opportunities he holds.
Tennis is all about who can produce the quality of tennis that is better than their opponent’s game, whilst under pressure, on the critical key points and at the pivotal swing moments in every match on the day. Whoever overcomes the huge mental challenges when it counts, is able to execute their game style, strongest strategies and allow their highest quality strokes to show up will emerge victorious.
Given these scenarios, possibilities and critical swing factors it is certainly ANYONE’S ball game. I hope you now have a greater insight into this fantastic match-up and more importantly an increased motivation to watch this match. ENJOY the 2011 Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Singles Final and better still PLAY tennis tomorrow!
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© Djokovic photo credit: 6cab
Nadal photo credit: mbevis