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Tuesday 21 August 2018

Djokovic wary of Nadal focus

TENNIS: Novak Djokovic is taking nothing for granted ahead of this evening's US Open final despite having beaten Rafael Nadal in five successive finals this year.

The last of those came at Wimbledon, where Nadal went in as the defending champion and favourite but admitted afterwards that Djokovic had a mental hold over him following his victories on hard courts and clay in the spring.

The Spaniard is also the defending champion here after beating Djokovic in four sets in the final last year, a memory that will be fresh in Djokovic's mind. "I know that I have a game that is good enough to win against him," said Djokovic (pictured).

"I have proved that this year on three different surfaces, so I believe that I have a good chance.

"I need to go out on the court believing I can win. But we're talking about a player who has won 10 majors already in his career and he's only 25. He's defending his title.

"Last year, throughout the whole tournament and in the final, I have never seen him serve better.

"So I think again it depends on my serve and his serve as well. It's going to be a tough match."

That Djokovic is in the final at all is remarkable, given the situation he found himself in against Roger Federer in the semi-finals on Saturday.

After recovering from two sets down, the world number one then saved two match points on his opponent's serve, the first with the sort of forehand return more normally attempted in a practice match, before reeling off four games in a row to move into the final.

That took Djokovic's record to an incredible 63 victories from 65 matches this season, and Nadal feels winning the mental battle against himself will be crucial.

The Spaniard, who beat Scotland's Andy Murray in four sets in the last four, said: "This year I lost the last five matches against him (Djokovic), five finals. This will be the sixth.

"He's obviously the favourite for the final, and I know I have to do something better than the other matches to try to change the situation.



Mentally

"I have my game, and I beat him in the past playing my game. The thing is to play my game very well and be strong enough mentally all the time, fight every ball, believe in the victory in every moment. That's something that, for moments this year, I didn't.

"But just play aggressive, try to play a similar match to last year here.

"I saw that match a lot of times and I know what I have to do."

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