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Miami Final Preview: Djokovic vs. Nadal

Miami, U.S.A.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal takes on No. 2 Novak Djokovic for the 40th time in Sunday’s Sony Open Tennis final. The top-seeded Spaniard, who is seeking a maiden Miami crown, edges the pair’s FedEx ATP H2H series 22-17. Three-time champion Djokovic, however, has emerged victorious in 13 of their 20 meetings on hard courts, picking up wins when the duo last met in Miami in 2007 and 2011.

This will be the 40th meeting between Nadal and Djokovic, which is the most frequent Open Era match-up. The pair has met 39 times in total (22-17 Nadal) - 20 times on hard courts (13-7 Djokovic); 16 times on clay (13-3 Nadal); and three times on grass (2-1 Nadal).

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In the past 35 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments, the Big Four of Nadal, Djokovic, Federer and Murray have accounted for 33 titles (27 of the past 28 since 2011), and that trend is set to continue today with the former two squaring off. The only exceptions over the last four years came in Paris-Bercy in 2010 (Soderling) and 2012 (Ferrer).

After today, Djokovic and Nadal will hold all nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles between them, as well as the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. The Serb is bidding for his fourth title in a row at Masters 1000 level, and fifth if you include season finale.

Djokovic will bid to become just the second player to complete the Indian Wells, Miami title sweep on two separate occasions. Seven players have achieved back-to-back success at the flagship events – Jim Courier (1991), Michael Chang (1992), Pete Sampras (1994), Marcelo Rios (1998), Andre Agassi (2001), Djokovic (2011) and Roger Federer (2005-06), who is the only player to have done it twice.

Novak & Rafa: The Rivalry

Djokovic is looking to move second in the all-time Miami winners list with victory today, surpassing Pete Sampras who also sits on three titles. The 26-year-old, who lifted the title in 2007 (d. Canas), 2011 (d. Nadal) and 2012 (d. Murray), has won 17 of his past 18 matches in Miami since 2011 with his only loss coming against Tommy Haas in the 4R last year. Here’s a look at those who’ve won multiple titles here:

Miami is one of three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events that Nadal has yet to get his hands on (along with Shanghai and Paris). The top-seeded Spaniard has fallen in the final three times: 2005 (l. to Federer), 2008 (l. to Davydenko) and 2011 (l. to Djokovic in a third set tie-break).

Nadal is looking to become the third left-handed champion in Sony Open Tennis history (since 1985). Marcelo Rios (d. Agassi in 1998) and Thomas Muster (d. Bruguera in 1997) were the others.

Djokovic took sole ownership of 14th place on the all-time titles list with his victory in Indian Wells and will be attempting to move to within one title of Thomas Muster (44) today. Nadal, who is currently tied with Guillermo Vilas (62), is looking to secure seventh place all for himself. The all-time title leaders are:

Jimmy Connors
Ivan Lendl
Roger Federer
John McEnroe
Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras
Rafael Nadal, Guillermo Vilas
Andre Agassi
Ilie Nastase
Boris Becker, Rod Laver
Thomas Muster
Novak Djokovic 

Nadal is one of four different Spaniards to reach the Sony Open Tennis final and he is looking to become the first to win the title in the tournament’s history (since 1985). Those from the Iberian country are 0-6 in finals, including David Ferrer (2013), Carlos Moya (2003), Sergi Bruguera (1997) and Nadal (2005, '08, '11).

Nadal is seeking an unprecedented 27th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title today, while Djokovic will be bidding to take sole ownership of third place on the all-time Masters 1000 titles list. The Serb is currently tied with Andre Agassi in third place with 17 titles.

Rafael Nadal
Roger Federer 21
Andre Agassi
Novak Djokovic
Pete Sampras

In the past four years (and six of the last eight), the year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings has won the most ATP World Tour Masters 1000 matches during that season. In 2010, Nadal won three Masters 1000 titles (29-5), while in 2011 and 2012 Djokovic was the top dog with respective 33-1 and 34-6 records. Last year, Nadal reclaimed the year-end World No. 1 ranking with a 35-3 Masters 1000 record and five such titles.



[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs.
[2] Novak Djokovic (SRB)

FedEx ATP Head2Head: Nadal leads 22-17

• Both Nadal and Djokovic advanced to the final after being handed SF walkovers by Tomas Berdych and Kei Nishikori, respectively. This marked the first time in the Open Era at an ATP World Tour event that two walkovers occurred in both SFs. It did happen twice at Futures level in 2002 – Algeria F2 and Czech F8.
Nadal is contesting his fourth Miami final (0-3), his 38th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final (26-11) and 89th final overall (62-26). He is bidding for his 63rd Tour-level title.
• Nadal advanced to his 52nd ATP World Tour SF and fifth in Miami with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over No. 12 seed Milos Raonic in two hours and 35 minutes.
• In the 4R, Nadal posted a 6-2, 6-2 victory over No. 14 seed Fabio Fognini. The Spaniard won 32 of 35 points on serve (91%) during the 62-minute encounter. The Spaniard opened his Miami account with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Lleyton Hewitt before cruising past Denis Istomin 6-1, 6-0 in 59 minutes in the 3R.
• Nadal, who has his just nine aces this week, has had his serve broken just once (vs Raonic), holding in 35 of his 36 service games while facing just six BPs. The 27-year-old has won a tournament-high 75% of points behind his second serve (42 of 56 points). He also leads the way in return games won this week, breaking serve in 17 of his 37 return games (46%).
• Nadal is making his 10th visit to the Sony Open Tennis (34-8). He has reached the QF or better in his last six outings but has never lifted the title here. He fell in three finals: 2005 (l. to Federer), 2008 (l. to Davydenko) and 2011 (l. to Djokovic).
• At Indian Wells, Nadal advanced to the 3R where he was upset in three sets by Dolgopolov.
• Nadal collected his 43rd clay-court title and 62nd overall when he defeated Dolgopolov in the inaugural Rio Open Presented by Claro hdtv final last month. The Spaniard equaled Guillermo Vilas in seventh place on the Open Era titles list with the victory.
• Nadal opened the season by defeating Gael Monfils to clinch the title in Doha. Qatar was the 17th different country the Spaniard had lifted an ATP title in. In chronological order, he had previously won in Poland, Brazil, Mexico, Monaco, Spain, Italy, France, Sweden, Germany, Canada, China, U.A.E., U.S., England, Australia and Japan.
• Nadal defeated world No. 6 Roger Federer en route to the Australian Open final (l. to Wawrinka).
• Nadal appeared in a career-high 14 finals in 2013, winning 10 titles. He returned to No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on Oct. 7 and finished the season in top spot for the third time.
• In 2013, Nadal became the first player to win 35+ matches on both clay and hard in a season.
• Nadal has been ranked in the top five longer than any active player (since May 9, 2005) and his total of 61 career titles is the second-best among active players (Federer 77).
• Nadal was named as the recipient of the Laureus World Comeback of the Year award at a ceremony in Kuala Lumpur this week. It was his third Laureus statuette overall. He also won the Laureus Sport of the Year award in 2011 and the Newcomer of the Year award in 2006.
Djokovic is contesting his fifth Miami final (3-1), his 28th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final (17-10) and 64th final overall (42-21). He is bidding for his 43rd Tour-level title.
• Djokovic reached his 39th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 SF and fifth in Miami with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over No 6 seed Andy Murray. The No. 2 seed converted on three of six BP opportunities.
• In the 4R, Djokovic defeated No. 16 seed Tommy Robredo 6-3, 7-5 to register his sixth straight victory over the Spaniard. The Serb, who received a bye in the 3R when Florian Mayer withdrew with a groin injury, overcame Jeremy Chardy in his opening match, winning 6-4, 6-3.
• Djokovic is 8/11 on BP chances this week: 2/2 vs Robredo, 3/3 vs Chardy and 3/6 vs Murray.
• Djokovic is looking for his 30th win in Miami today.
• Djokovic is competing at the Sony Open Tennis for the ninth time (29-5). He leads the way among active players for titles won in Miami, lifting the title three times in 2007 (d. Canas), 2011 (d. Nadal) and 2012 (d. Murray). Last year he was upset in the 4R by Tommy Haas.
• Djokovic arrived in Miami after winning his 42nd ATP World Tour title at Indian Wells last week. The Serb’s victory over Federer in the final was his first top 10 win this season.
• Djokovic’s other competitive outings this year came at the Australian Open where he reached the QF (l. to eventual champ Wawrinka) and Dubai where he advanced to the SF (l. to eventual champ Federer).
• Djokovic finished 2013 in the top three for the seventh year in a row, winning seven titles in nine finals (2nd-most in career). He ended the year on a 24-match winning streak.
• Djokovic reached three Grand Slam finals for the third year in a row in 2013, highlighted by winning his sixth major at the Australian Open.

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