Monday, September 12, 2011

Archie's Picks: Djokovic-Nadal US Open Final

It's been a great US Open, as usual, and Archie's had a good time too, even though he's been a little off on his picks this time around. Archie knew that he'd have to cool off at some point. He was basically running the table during the French and Wimbledon, but he knows that even he can't win them all.

He did get a little frustrated with Federer on Saturday, as he felt strongly about that pick, and really liked Federer's form going in. I heard him mutter something to the effect of "see if I ever pick that guy again" after the match.

Anyhow, it's a new day, and a beautiful one at that. It's time for a fourth consecutive Monday men's final, and this one is shaping up to be a doozy. Without any further ado, here is Archie's pick for the big match.

See Archie's Williams-Wozniacki pick here
See Archie's Stosur-Kerber pick here
See Archie's Federer-Djokovic pick here:
See Archie's Federer-Tsonga pick here:
See Archie's Murray-Isner Pick here:
See Archie's Roddick-Nadal pick here.
See Archie's Djokovic-Tipsarevic pick here:
See Archie's William's-Pavlyuchenkova pick here:
See Archie's Stosur-Zvonareva pick here:
See Archie's Pennetta-Kerber pick here:
See Archie's Petkovic-Wozniacki pick here:
See Archie's French Open Picks here:
See Archie's Wimbledon picks here

Archie's Pick: Djokovic
Why: The guy is obviously leading a charmed life this year. If Saturday's match point miracle wasn't proof of that then Archie doesn't know what is.

My Pick: Nadal
Why: I've always been a person who believes that a human is only capable of so much inspired play. In my mind Djokovic is the better player on a hard court right now, and his 9-5 career record vs. Rafa is proof of that, but no matter how good he is, I just can't see him beating Nadal again. He's done it five consecutive times now, all in finals, and each time I've been surprised a little bit more.

Let me say this though: Djokovic has turned in the best possible results this year, and every time I've come to the conclusion that it simply can't get any better, he's one-upped himself. He's 63-2, 5-0 vs. Rafa in finals, and he's currently holding the Australian Open and Wimbledon titles, along with the No.1 ranking. In other words, he's the better player, on his best surface, at the absolute pinnacle of his career -- why shouldn't he win over Rafa again?

This is truly a tough match to call.

Today, Djokovic will try to become the sixth player to win three Grand Slams in a single season in the Open Era, joining Rod Laver, Jimmy Connors, Mats Wilander, Roger Federer and Rafa, and many believe that his season, whether he wins or loses today, might be the best in the history of tennis.

But if he wins today, I don't think you can even argue. To do what he's done against two of the greatest players to ever pick up a racquet -- it's almost incomprehensible. This is not a guy that is facing a soft era of ATP players -- he's facing the BEST OF ALL TIME, and kicking their butts with startling regularity.

Still, Rafa will try to find a way to beat him today, and if he does, he'll have managed to grab his second Grand Slam title in the year of Nole. Not too bad at all for the Spaniard. At 25, Nadal is still in his prime, and to his credit, he's never wavered in his desire to solve the Djokovic puzzle.

Will he have enough game to get it done today in New York? He failed to defend his Wimbledon title vs. Djokovic, so what promises to be different today?

As far as Djokovic goes, x's and o'saside, the real question is, does he have another brilliant performance in him today? He'll likely need it today, because Rafa promises to be at his most ornery, as his desire to defeat Djokovic and reassert himself has surely grown exponentially with each humbling defeat that he's endured over the year.

I could spend the next few hours talking about what Rafa has to do to keep Nole off balance and vice-versa, but really I don't think the outcome will be about x's and o's, topspin or slice, the ability to get to the net or not -- it'll be about desire. That sense of urgency that makes a player perform at a level that even he didn't know he was capable of performing at, and more importantly -- at a time in the match when it most matters.

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