Nadal hopes to break Djokovic jinx


Rafael Nadal must overturn a five-match losing streak against Novak Djokovic this year if he is to successfully defend his US Open title and clinch an 11th career Grand Slam title. Nadal confronts the toughest challenge in men’s tennis on Monday when he tries to derail the red-hot Serb’s campaign to add a first US Open to the Australian Open and Wimbledon titles he has already captured in his landmark year. It’s been a season which has seen Djokovic win 63 of his 65 matches, take Nadal’s world number one spot, collect two of the three majors so far played and secure five of six Masters.
Nadal has suffered most at the hands of Djokovic, losing in the finals of Indian Wells, Miami, Rome, Madrid and Wimbledon. But the Spaniard, who became the youngest man to complete a career Grand Slam when he won a first US Open crown 12 months ago, believes his major battle will be convincing himself he can triumph on Monday.
“I am not very happy about my mental performance against him this year because for moments I didn’t believe really 100 percent in victory,” said Nadal, who will be playing in his 14th Grand Slam final. “That’s the big problem. Because when that’s happening, you have fewer chances than if you believe. If you believe, you are running more and you are putting one more ball inside. So that’s what I’m going try to change for Monday.” Nadal reached the final with a bruising 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 win over British fourth seed Andy Murray while Djokovic made it to his sixth career Grand Slam final, with a 6-7 (7/9), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 win over five-time champion Roger Federer. In a repeat of his semi-final heroics of 2010, the Serb once again saved two match points to beat Federer.
Nadal said he is ready to slug it out with Djokovic who could be forgiven for thinking the tennis gods are on his side this year when he unleashed an outrageous forehand return to save the first of those points. But he will need to unleash a relentless barrage. “I have to do it not one time. I have to do it 1000 times during the match. That’s what I really have to do, and that’s what I’m going to try,” he said.