The younger headbanded Athenian denied the percentages to down the ‘King of Clay’ in a dramatic three-setter, one other gladitorial achievement in this younger warrior’s profession.
Djokovic, the reigning king of the tennis world and winner of the final three Grand Slam titles, is seeking to conquer Nadal’s territory in the clay-court season, and full a monopoly of the majors for a second time in his profession.
That, after all, will not be on the road in the ultimate of the Madrid Open on Sunday, however the Serb produced a press release win over fellow pretender to the throne Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals, elevating his degree simply when it mattered in a 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-4) win over the 25-year-old ‘Prince of Clay’.
Earlier than figuring out his last opponent, Djokovic had insisted he felt ‘ready’ for the problem of taking over Nadal on clay as soon as extra. His crushed opponent Thiem made the ominous assertion that the uber-dominant 31-year-old is quickly approaching ‘100%’ of his degree once more.
In earlier months that has not been the case. That is his first last since swatting Nadal apart at Melbourne Park. There have been some curiously lacklustre performances alongside the best way..
There was a way, nonetheless, that Djokovic was merely centered on the larger image. He’s made little secret of his main targets in the approaching years. First, to carry all 4 Slams without delay once more – a second ‘Novak Slam’, if you’ll – then, to catch Roger Federer’s Grand Slam haul.
Profitable the title on the Caja Magica, then, might not appear to be his precedence however the high seed admitted it might be ideally suited to go to Roland Garros having captured at the least one of many three preparatory Masters 1000 titles in Monte Carlo, Madrid or Rome.
This last is way from a foregone conclusion, nonetheless. Tsitsipas is a person in nice type. He’s chasing back-to-back titles, having received in Estoril only a week in the past, whereas he can turn into the primary participant on the ATP Tour to boast three trophies in 2019. Ought to Djokovic win, he’ll turn into the fifth member of the two-title membership.
Confidence is sky excessive for the 20-year-old Greek. He described his win over Nadal as ‘definitely’ the most effective win of his profession, whereas labelling himself because the ‘Courageous Stefanos’.
Circumstances swimsuit him. The fast situations at altitude help the serve-and-volley fashion he frequently employs, whereas his one-handed backhand was enjoying at a ridiculously excessive degree in the win over Nadal.
Saturday’s victory noticed him full the set of ‘Big Three’ wins however it’s a tricky ask to beat two of the all-time greats in the identical occasion.
In reaching his first Masters 1000 last, on the Rogers Cup, Tsitsipas beat Djokovic earlier than ultimately shedding to Nadal. The reverse might very simply occur once more.
Expertise is definitely on the world No. 1’s aspect. That is his 48th Masters 1000 last, profitable 32 of the earlier 47. One other title on Sunday will see him equal Nadal’s record haul of 33 Masters titles. The 2-time champion additionally boasts a 100% record in Madrid finals, beating Andy Murray (2016) and Nadal (2011) in the previous.
Djokovic is conscious, nonetheless, of the risk Tsitsipas brings to the desk.
‘He’s not a straightforward opponent to play in opposition to,’ the Serb mentioned. ‘He’s in type and a younger participant who’s already top-10.’
Routes to Madrid Open last
R2: 6-Four 6-2 Fritz
R3: 6-1 7-6 Chardy
QF: W/O Cilic
SF: 7-6 7-6 Thiem
R2: 6-2 7-5 Mannarino
R3: 6-Three 6-Four Verdasco
QF: 7-5 3-6 6-2 Zverev
SF: 6-Four 2-6 6-3 Nadal
Little question Djokovic would like to degree their head-to-head record however Tsitsipas – who will rise to world No. 6 with the title – is anticipating a really completely different match from their solely earlier assembly on the onerous courts of Canada.
‘I have never faced him on clay, so I don’t know what to anticipate,’ the Greek admitted. ‘I have seen plenty of his matches, but I’m going to attempt to adapt to the best way he’s enjoying on clay as quick as I can as a result of I’m fairly positive he’s not simple on clay.
‘I’m going to must be mentally centered and additionally psychologically prepared for a battle. That can be crucial.’
‘Courageous Stefanos’ will want all of his may to win, however logic favours Djokovic – who’s but to drop a set.
Whatever the victor, it guarantees to be one other tense and thrilling encounter on Estadio Manolo Santana. One definitely that’s to not be missed.
Prediction: Djokovic in 2