It’s the top 2, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic, for the 41st time, and the 21th time in a final. And it’s the 5th time they duel in this particulart tournament, the ATP Italian Open.
Comparing career stats, Nadal is ahead on nearly all of the primary ones, except 1st service points won. (Djokovic leads 73 to 72%, along with a larger aces to double fault ratio)
Djokovic also leads in tiebreaks, 64 to 63%, deciding sets of a match 71 to 70%.
Otherwise Rafa holds the real edge, ever so slightly, in other categories.
In just 3 matches on clay, Novak actually won..these were the 2011 Italian Open, 2011 Madrid Open, and 2013 Monte Carlo.
I looked at those matches to see what Novak might need to do to win today.
58% break points saved
50% break points converted
71% first serve points won
Now we’ll examine via cycles, Rafa first:
Below average for Nadal today, tho he’s showing more strength day by day and still enough of a mental edge to make his power shots stick. But he’ll rather self-absorbed and not terribly motivated as in prior matches.
Doesn’t look for Novak himself, as he’s coming in with weak power, hardly any mental game. He has plenty of heart and will have to rely on that. His overall athletic ability is rather low, along with his focus.
I’m giving this one to Nadal, in 3 very close sets. Get the popcorn.