Nole vs. Rafa Chapter 48
14 Majors,1 Gold Medal and 3 Years at #1 vs. 11 Majors, 1 Bronze Medal, and 4 Years at #1
It doesn’t get much bigger than this. Novak now leads his head-to-head with Rafa 24-23 after years of Rafa having a favorable head-to-head record against seemingly everyone on tour. These two players have also won the most Super 9/Masters Series/Masters 1000 events since those distinctions arose in 1990. The winner can either close the gap or extend his lead in this important category.
There will be few surprises at a strategic level between these two combatants. Rafa might tactically do something a little more often (i.e. attack the net or try to blast through his backhand slightly more often), but the basic patterns will be the same as in the past. The key question is can Rafa scramble enough, can he serve well enough, can he back up his serve well enough, and can he return well enough to pressure Novak? In short, can Rafa turn back the clock and make this into a street fight? Rafa might not win a street fight, but he almost certainly will not win if he is simply letting Novak dictate play. I think Novak dictates and wins.
My Prediction: Novak Djokovic d. Rafael Nadal 7-5, 6-2