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Monday, November 11, 2013

Rafael Nadal ready for Novak Djokovic in ATP World Tour final

Rafael Nadal ready for Novak Djokovic in ATP World Tour finalRafael Nadal (left) with Novak Djokovic


BARCLAYS ATP WORLD TOUR FINALS

  • Final: Rafael Nadal v Novak Djokovic
  •  
  • Date and time: Monday, 11 November at 20:00 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Three, BBC Radio 5 live, online, Connected TVs and mobile devices; live text commentary on BBC Sport website
Rafael Nadal will try to cap an incredible year by winning his first ATP World Tour Finals title when he meets Novak Djokovic in Monday's final.

Analysis

This will be episode 39 of a series that doesn't look like being cancelled any time soon. It's too wonderfully unpredictable for that. Nadal lost six finals in a row to Djokovic in 2011 before finding a way, either side of injury, to wrestle the tie in his favour. An improved serve, a position closer to the baseline, and a resolve to hit more rally-shortening winners have all paid dividends. His victory in this year's French Open semi-final hit Djokovic very hard, while the defeat in the US Open final made the Serb realise it was time for a change of tack. So far so good - Djokovic took a lot of encouragement from winning their final in Beijing last month, and was in formidable form against Stan Wawrinka in Sunday's semi-final. That's why, indoors, he must start favourite to end the season by notching a 22nd win in a row.
The world's top two players will play each other for the sixth time this year and the 39th time in their careers. 
Nadal has won all four Grand Slams, theDavis Cup and Olympic gold, but has yet to land the season-ending title.
"It's true that this tournament is special and I never had the chance to win here," said the Spaniard, 27.
"But I know a lot of work remains, probably the most difficult one, and that's fine. I think if I don't play my best, I'm not going to have a chance. I need to play more aggressive."
Nadal had the advantage of playing in Sunday's first semi-final and, after seeing off Roger Federer in straight sets, left the court six hours before Djokovic finished against Stanislas Wawrinka.
But he said, with the final at 20:00 GMT, that "is not going to affect anything".
"The winner [of the second semi-final] will have a chance to sleep well in the morning. I don't think it will make any difference," he added.
Nadal leads the personal duel 22-16 and has won three of their five matches this year, but Djokovic prevailed last time out in Beijing and is on an unbeaten run of 21 matches.
The Serb, 26, is also the defending champion and has won nine successive matches at the O2 Arena.
"After the US Open final, I haven't lost a match," said Djokovic. "I'm trying to take a lot of positive energy out of this confidence and out of this run that I had.

Head-to-head

NadalDjokovic
27
Age
26
10
2013 titles
6
71/6
2013 won/lost
67/9
$11.1m (£6.9m)
2013 prize money
$9.3m (£5.8m)
60
Career titles
40
654/128
Career won/lost
536/132
$61.1m (£38.2m)
Career prize money
$55m (£34.4m)
"I won against him in the finals of Beijing in straight sets and I played a great match.
"I liked the way I improved in our matches. I like that I changed a few things that allowed me to win against him. That's something that I will definitely try to use [in the final]."
Nadal has had an amazing run since returning from a serious knee injury in February, winning 10 titles, beating Djokovic on the way to claiming the French and US Open titles, and taking the number one ranking from the Serb.
"Whenever we play each other, especially in the last few years, there is a lot on the line and there's so much to play for," said Djokovic.
"It's a huge motivation for both of us to win against the biggest rival. We played close to 40 times against each other. It's very tense - we push each other to the limit."