Thursday, May 5, 2011

Previewing Sunday’s final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic

Win or lose in Sunday's final of the BNP Paribas Open, Rafael Nadal will still be the No. 1 player in the world. But if the streaking Novak Djokovic should defeat Nadal at Indian Wells, there will be no doubt about who's playing the best tennis player in the world.

Djokovic is on a 19-match winning streak that includes three wins over Roger Federer, a Grand Slam title and a Davis Cup championship. He says he's playing the greatest tennis of his life. When the new rankings are released on Monday, he'll be No. 2 in the world. British oddsmakers are even favoring him in the match with Nadal. A changing of the tennis guard is afoot.

So why does it feel like this is still Rafa's match to lose?

The two have met in a final five times in their careers and Nadal has won each time. He's able to keep the ball in play on Djokovic's serve and forces the action enough to pressure the Serb into make mistakes. Nadal's range also helps him track down the balls that Djokovic sprays to all sides of the court. For Nole to win, he'll have to win quick points on his serve and dictate his own pace.

Prediction: Nadal in two.

Marisa Tomei Shannyn Sossamon Rachael Leigh Cook Elisha Cuthbert Ciara

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