Rafael Nadal will attempt to crown the year’s most compelling comeback when he meets world No. 1 Novak Djokovic for the 37th time in Monday’s US Open final.
Twelve months ago, the swashbuckling Spaniard, who will be playing in his 18th Grand Slam final, sat at home in Manacor, nursing his troublesome knees and fearing his career may be finished at just 26.
But after seven months out of the sport, Nadal has been a revelation. He has won nine titles, including a record eighth Roland Garros, taking his Grand Slam haul to 12, stacked up a 59-3 victory run as well as a perfect stretch of 21 wins on hard courts.
Nadal leads Australian Open champion Djokovic 21-15 in a career rivalry that began at Roland Garros in 2006.
Their 37th meeting will be a record on head-to-head meetings, beating the 36 duels that John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl fought in their careers.
Nadal has won five of the last six meetings, a stretch which started after Djokovic won their epic 2012 Australian Open final, played out over a gruelling five hours and 53 minutes.
One of Nadal’s wins was in a pulsating Roland Garros semifinal in June where Djokovic led 4-2 in the final set before Nadal hit back to keep the Serb still waiting for a maiden title in Paris. — AFP
Nadal leads 21-15
Last five meetings: 2013, Montreal, Semifinal: Nadal bt Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2)
2013, Roland Garros, Semifinal, Nadal bt Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7 3), 9-7
2013, Monte Carlo, Final, Djokovic bt Nadal 6-2, 7-6(1)
2012, Roland Garros, Final, Nadal bt Djokovic 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5
2012, Rome, Final, Nadal bt Djokovic 7-5, 6-3