Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 9th 2013 Contents A55
NEW YORK---The stakes are
always high, the encounters
Rafael Nadal and Novak
Djokovic have built the best rival-
ry in tennis on a mountain of
big-time matches, the likes of
which they ll play today in the
US Open final.
It will be the 37th meeting of
their careers---the most times in
the Open era that any two men
"When you are involved in
these kind of matches," Nadal
said, "you feel special."
Nadal will be going for his 13th
major title, Djokovic his seventh.
Nadal is seeded second, Djokovic
This will be their third meeting
in the last four years in the final
in Arthur Ashe Stadium, a
stretch interrupted last year when
Nadal sat out with a knee injury.
Nadal won the first match, in
2010, and Djokovic won the
rematch in 2011. Both were tense
four-setters that played a role in
the winner being ranked first at
year s end.
"It s always the biggest chal-
lenge that you can have in our
sport now," Djokovic said of play-
ing Nadal. "I mean, he s the ulti-
mate competitor out there. He s
fighting for every ball and he s
playing probably the best tennis
that he ever played on hard
Both players are seeking their
second major title of the year:
Djokovic won the Australian
Open and Nadal won the French.
Nadal leads the overall series
21-15, though Djokovic has an
11-6 edge on hard courts.
Fittingly for a match with
these sort of stakes, the US Open
has built in a planned day of rest
for the men, abandoning the tra-
dition of playing the semifinals
and final back-to-back over the
It s a nod to the intensely
physical nature of the modern
game and to the desires of the
players, who complained loudly
about such a quick turnaround
at the tail end of the year s final
"I like to finish the tourna-
ments on Sunday, not on Mon-
day," Nadal said. "But talking
about fair, for sure it s a more
fair finish on Monday, having
one day off between the semi-
finals and final."
The day off will certainly help
Djokovic, who grinded through
a 4-hour, 9-minute five-set win
over Stanislas Wawrinka in the
semifinals, while Nadal dis-
patched Richard Gasquet in
three, losing his first and only
service game of the tournament.
But is it enough rest for the
world No 1, who will keep that
ranking---at least for the time
being---regardless of Monday s
In July at Wimbledon,
Djokovic played 4 hours, 43 min-
utes in a five-set semifinal win
over Juan Martin del Potro, while
Andy Murray won his semifinal
in four sets. When they returned
two days later for the final,
Djokovic was clearly not his usual
He rushed points, tried fin-
ishing many of them at the net,
which isn t his strong suit, and
paid the price---a three-set loss
"Hard court is my most suc-
cessful surface," Djokovic said.
"This is where I can say I feel
most comfortable and confident.
Hopefully, I can perform better
than I did in the Wimbledon
final and maybe get a chance to
win a trophy."
While Djokovic has the most
wins on tour this year on the
hard courts (31), Nadal is unde-
feated---a perfect 21-0. It s an
amazing statistic, especially for
a man who missed seven months
with knee problems between
2012 and 2013. He won the
French Open on clay, his favorite
surface, then made a stunning
first-round exit at Wimbledon.
That loss to 135th-ranked Steve
Darcis at the All England Club
marks the only tournament of
the 13 Nadal has entered this
year in which he didn t make the
"He lost three matches this
year," Djokovic said. "With no
doubt, he s the best player in the
moment this year, no question
This will be their sixth meeting
in a Grand Slam final.
In addition to the split at
Flushing Meadows, they ve met
once each at the other three
Included in those matches was
their five-set Australian Open
masterpiece in 2012 that went 5
hours, 53 minutes, a record for
a Grand Slam final.
Later that year, they had a
four-set final at the French Open
that stretched over two days
because of the rain.
This year, Nadal pulled out a
9-7 win in the fifth set of a semi-
final at Roland Garros, denying
Djokovic a chance at the closing
leg of the career Grand Slam he
most dearly wanted to honor his
one-time coach, Jelena Gencic,
who died earlier during the tour-
Their only meeting this year
Open tune-up in Montreal,
where Nadal won the best-of-
three-sets match in a third-set
Indeed, these are always
memorable affairs, though Nadal
acknowledged with a laugh that
he d rather be playing someone
"In the end, we have to be
honest, no?" he said. "Talking
about a final, I d want to play
against a player that I have more
chances to win. But I play against
him. I ve played against him a
lot of times. Always, we ve played
very exciting matches."
Nadal, Djokovic meet
again for US Open title
NEW YORK---Leander Paes won his eighth Grand
Slam men s doubles title yesterday, teaming with
Radek Stepanek to defeat Alexander Peya and Bruno
Soares 6-1, 6-3 in the final of the US Open.
Paes, of India, and Stepanek, of the Czech Republic,
knocked out the Bryan brothers in a three-set semifinal
to deny the Americans the chance to become the
first men s doubles team in 62 years to win all four
majors in the same year.
This is the second title for the Paes-Stepanek pair-
ing. They also won the 2012 Australian Open.
Stepanek had neck surgery early in the year. Paes
received calls from others wanting to play with him,
but he turned them down to stay with his partner.
Meanwhile, Croatians Borna Coric and Ana Konjuh
swept the US Open juniors titles.
Paes teams with Stepanek
for US Open doubles title
SAN FRANCISCO---Emirates Team New Zealand
won Race 3 of the America s Cup, rebounding
from a penalty at the first mark and overtaking
winless defending champion Oracle Team USA
on the windward third leg.
Team New Zealand s 72-foot catamaran reeled
in the American syndicate during a tacking duel
sailing upwind toward the fog-shrouded Golden
Gate Bridge yesterday. The Kiwis sailed into the
lead about halfway up the leg.
The Kiwis need to win six more races to claim
the oldest trophy in international sports for the
Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.
Oracle Team USA, owned by software billionaire
Larry Ellison of Oracle Corp, needs to win 11 races
to retain the Auld Mug. Oracle was docked two
points by an international jury in the biggest cheat-
ing scandal in the regatta s 162-year history.
Team NZ overtakes
Oracle to win Race 3
BUENOS AIRES---The head of the 2014 Winter
Olympics in Sochi is asking the IOC to help "stop
this campaign and this speculation" related to
the anti-gay law recently passed in Russia.
Sochi organising chief Dmitry Chernyshenko
says it s important to have the help of the Inter-
national Olympic Committee to spread the word
"among those who are still trying to speculate on
this very transparent and very clear topic."
Chernyshenko reiterated the law doesn t prohibit
homosexuality in any way and says it "doesn t
contradict any element of the Olympic Charter."
He said local organisers are "absolutely confident
that there will be no conflicts in that regards."
IOC President Jacques Rogge said Sunday the
IOC "received strong reassurance that this law
will not affect the participants in the Sochi Games."
Sochi asks IOC to help
stop gay law 'speculation'
NEW YORK---Grammy-winner Bruno Mars will
perform at halftime of the Super Bowl.
The National Football League made the announce-
ment ahead of the kickoff of games yesterday, with
Mars joined by FOX co-host Terry Bradshaw and
analyst Michael Strahan in Times Square.
The league s championship game will be played
February 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford,
The 27-year-old singer-songwriter-producer was
honored for best male video and choreography for
"Treasure" at the MTV Video Music Awards last
Halftime shows have drawn more than 100 million
television viewers in the United States in past years.
Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, reacts to the crowd after defeating
Stanislas Wawrinka, of Switzerland, during the semifinals of the
2013 US Open tennis tournament, Saturday.
Rafael Nadal, of Spain, reacts after
beating Richard Gasquet, of France,
during the semifinals of the 2013
US Open tennis tournament,
Saturday in New York. AP PHOTOS
Bruno Mars to sing at
halftime of Super Bowl
Monday, September 9, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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