Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Nadal and Djokovic Can Serve Up Another Treat on Centre Court

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Nadal and Djokovic Can Serve Up Another Treat on Centre Court

Article excerpt

Byline: tennis Matt Majendie at Wimbledon

TENNIS sentimentalists like to think of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as the ultimate rivalry, the hope and expectation being that this Wimbledon would see the pair reunited in a repeat of their classic 2008 final.

While there have been some memorable encounters in their tennis tug of war -- Nadal winning 23 of his 38 meetings with the Swiss -- it is comfortably eclipsed by another head to head, which will take place on Centre Court later today.

When Novak Djokovic retired hurt 12 years ago in his first meeting with Nadal at Roland Garros, it hardly indicated the potential for what lay ahead. But today marks the pair's 52nd meeting and gives Nadal the opportunity to level the overall scoreline in the most-played contest in the history of tennis.

Understandably, Nadal described it as a match in which "anything could happen". He added: "I know if I don't play very well, I will not have the chance to win. I know he's playing very well.

"It's always a big challenge to face Novak. He is one of the more complex players that I ever saw in our sport. There is no match in the history of tennis that has been played more than our match. That's a big thing. We always played in important stages, important places."

The magnitude of what is at stake is not lost on Nadal. So debilitating are his annual French Open runs, that usually the Mallorcan arrives on the grass with his body broken.

There was an injury after Roland Garros, which meant he did not have any competitive matches on grass before Wimbledon, but he has recovered in time.

Federer is out of the way, beaten by Kevin Anderson in thequarter-finals. This hottest of British summers has parched the grass, creating exaggerated bounce and placing less strain on Nadal's fragile knees. He knows this is the perfect chance to secure a third Wimbledon crown. …

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