2013 Men’s U.S. Open Tennis Championship Betting Preview: #1 Novak Djokovic vs #2 Rafael Nadal

2013 Men’s U.S. Open Tennis Championship
#1 Novak Djokovic (+120) vs #2 Rafael Nadal (-140)
All odds courtesy of 5 Dimes Sportsbooks
Monday, September 9, 2013, 5:00 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
USTA National Tennis Center – Flushing Meadows, New York
Arthur Ashe Stadium
Playing Surface: DecoTurf (Hard)

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic meet for the U.S. Open title Monday in New York. Nadal is a slight favorite.
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic meet for the U.S. Open title Monday in New York. Nadal is a slight favorite.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will meet for the 37th time Monday in the U.S. Open final. It is also the sixth time since 2010 that they have met in a grand slam final. With all due respect to #3 seed and Wimbledon champion Andy Murray this is the final most wanted to see.

Djokovic is 26 from Serbia. He is 50-8 this season with titles at Monte Carlo, Dubai, and the Australian Open. Djokovic has 6 major titles including the 2011 U.S. Open where he beat Nadal. He lost to Andy Murray in the final last year of the U.S. Open. He beat Murray in the finals of the Australian Open this year, an event he has won 3 straight years. Djokovic lost to Nadal in a grueling 5 set match at the French Open and lost to Murray in the finals at Wimbledon. Djokovic has made it at least to the semifinals of the last 13 majors.

Djokovic beat Ricardus Berankis in the first round of the U.S. Open in 2013, Benjamin Becker in the second, Joao Sousa in the third, Marcel Granollers in the fourth, and #21 Mikhail Youzhny in the quarterfinals 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-0. The third set against Youzhny was the only set Djokovic has lost so far. Becker took him to a tiebreaker in one set, but otherwise no one else has won more than 3 games in a set, including four 6-0 sets.

Djokovic held off a very dangerous #9 seeded Stanislas Wawrinka in 5 sets in Saturday’s semifinal 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Wawrinka was making his very first appearance in a grand slam semifinal. The match took 4 hours and 9 minutes to complete. Djokovic had 9 aces and 6 double faults, while Wawrinka had  8 and 7. Djokovic was 69% on first serves and 56% on second serves. Wawrinka was 71% and 50% respectively. Djokovic converted only 4 of 19 break points, and Wawrinka was 5/9. Djokovic had 38 winners and 46 unforced errors, while Wawrinka had 57 and 69.

Nadal is 27 from Spain. He is 59-3 this season with 9 titles (most on his favorite clay surface including the French Open, where he is nearly unbeatable.) He does have titles on hard courts at Montreal and Cincinnati, and has won 18 straight matches since a first round exit at Wimbledon. Nadal missed the Australian Open with a stomach virus that left him too weak to train. He missed the Olympics and the U.S. Open last year with a knee injury. Nadal has 12 major titles including the career grand slam. He won the U.S. Open in 2010 by beating Djokovic, and lost to Djokovic in the final in 2011.

Nadal beat Ryan Harrison in the first round, Rogerio Dutra Silva in the second, Ivan Dodig in the third, #22 Philipp Kohlschreiber in the fourth round, and #19 Tommy Robredo in the quarterfinals 6-0, 6-2, 6-2. Kohlschreiber won the first set in a tiebreaker but no one else has won more than four games in any set against him. Roger Federer was also in Nadal’s section as the #7 seed, but was upset by Robredo in the fourth.

Nadal beat #8 Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-6 (7-1), 6-2 in the semifinal Saturday. Gasquet was making his second trip to a grand slam semi, and has never beaten Nadal in 11 matches. In fact Gasquet has only taken 4 sets off Nadal in those matches. Nadal took only 2 hours and 21 minutes to dispatch him Saturday. Nadal had 3 aces and one double fault while Gasquet had 6 and 4. Nadal was 76% on first serves and 57% on second serves and Gasquet was 71% and 45%. Nadal converted all four of his break point chances, and Gasquet was 1 for 6. Nadal had 35 winners and 24 unforced errors and Gasquet had 26 and 32.

Nadal leads the series 21-15 against Djokovic, but Djokovic is 3-2 in grand slam finals. Nadal is 2-1 against Djokovic in 2013. Djokovic beat him on clay in the final at Monte Carlo 6-2, 7-6 (7-1). The two played an epic five set match in the semifinals of the French Open. Nadal won 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7 (7-3), 9-7. Nadal has only lost one match in his career at Roland Garros and Djokovic led 2-1 in the fifth set. As part of his 18 match winning streak Nadal beat Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-2) in the semifinals at Montreal. This is the third time they have met for the U.S. Open title, with each beating the other in four sets in 2010 when Nadal won and 2011 when Djokovic returned the favor. Nadal missed last year’s U.S. Open with a knee injury, and Djokovic would lose to Andy Murray in the final last year.

Nadal is red hot right now, and might be playing some of the best tennis of his career. Although he is still the #1 ranked player in the world, Djokovic has struggled against Nadal and Murray. I suppose playing a 4 hour match on Saturday might make Djokovic a little fatigued but he is one of the fittest players on tour, so it shouldn’t be much of an issue. Still, I think Nadal wins in a grueling 4 or 5 set match.

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