Novak Djokovic will face Rafael Nadal in the Sony Open final on Monday morning (5:30am AEDT) as he bids to win his fourth title in Miami and his second tournament in 2014.
Djokovic and Nadal will do battle for the 40th time in Miami, and with both players likely to be fresh after seriously premature ends to their semifinals, we’re likely to see a fantastic feast of tennis when the two top seeds meet. Both semi-finals – with Nadal due to face Tomas Berdych and Djokovic scheduled to meet Kei Nishikori – were abandoned before a ball was hit due to injuries to both Berdych and Nishikori.
It was not the warm-up for Sunday’s final that either player would have wanted, but nevertheless it has given these two greats of the modern era an extra day of recovery on what is a tumultuous and jam-packed tour.
Nishikori has every right to feel aggrieved to have missed an opportunity to do battle with Djokovic, after a wonderful win in two gruelling three setters against Roger Federer in the quarterfinals and David Ferrer in the last-16.
Djokovic had reached the semifinals after defeating friend and rival Andy Murray in straight sets on Thursday. Whilst on paper the result seemed to be fairly emphatic, this perhaps shrouds what was a fantastic and closely fought game of tennis between the two 26-year olds. Having endured quite a difficult 2014 so far, Murray played his best tennis of the year against the Serb, and will feel slightly put out after a controversial call from the umpire saw him capitulate at the end of the first set.
Whilst Djokovic battled to overcome Murray, Nadal was involved in his own quarterfinal battle too, losing the first set to Canadian Milos Raonic before recovering to win 6-4 in the third set.
Despite the disappointment of the semifinals, one thing is for sure: Sunday promises to be another captivating contest between these two heavyweights of the modern game. Their rivalry is already the stuff of legend. Nadal is currently leading their head-to-head record, but crucially, Djokovic currently has the upper hand when the two have met in finals; leading 10-9 in final matches. Nadal has also lost the last two clashes between the two and will need to be at his rampaging best to prevent the Serb emerging victorious on Sunday.
If the men’s final promises to be spectacularly competitive, it appears unlikely that the women’s final will be able to offer us that same level of spectacle. Serena Williams will face Li Na of China after defeating Maria Sharapova in straight sets, and given that the Na has failed to beat the American in ten of the last 11 matches between the two sides, and has not defeated her for six years; the clash between the two looks like rather a foregone conclusion.
Nevertheless, with the mouthwatering clash between Nadal and Djokovic to look forward to on Sunday, there’s still plenty for the spectactors to see in this wonderful tournament in Miami.
Once the curtain closes on the Sony Open, attention will quickly turn to next week’s Davis Cup quarterfinals, with some fascinating matchups taking place including Japan v Czech Republic, France v Germany, Italy v Great Britain and Switzerland v Kazakhstan. Following the Davis Cup, the ATP and WTA tours head towards the clay season. 2014 has been a feast of tennis so far, and it’s not stopping anytime soon.
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