By Ros Satar
- Dream final to start the season
- H2H: Drawn at 23:23
- Nadal’s last win over Djokovic was in the 2014 Roland Garros Final.
DOHA, QATAR – The season gets started with perhaps one of the top final line-ups as World No. 1 Novak Djokovic faces Rafael Nadal in the final of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha.
After issues with his confidence and less than stellar results by his own exacting standards, Nadal will hope to really turn the page with a season opening win against his old rival.
The Spaniard will be bidding for his first hard court title in two years, reaching the final after defeated Illya Marchenko 6-3 6-4.
Talking to ATPWorldTour.com, Nadal said: “I did a few good things, and I’m happy with the victory, being in the first final of the season in the first official tournament is something great.
“For sure it’s important for my confidence, confirming that the end of the 2015 season had been something realistic and [in] the beginning of 2016 I [am] still playing well.”
It was maybe a tougher route to the final for the World No. 1 as Djokovic faced off against Tomas Berdych, as he booked a place in his 16th consecutive final. He now sits behind Roger Federer’s 17 in a row (June 2005 to August 2006) and the Open Era record belongs to Ivan Lendl – 18 in 1981-82.
Djokovic said to ATPWorldTour.com: “I’m very proud of the achievements and this particular stat, but I try not to think about what would happen if I would lose or not get to the finals. This is exactly how I want to start the year, playing in the finals of the first tournament against one of my biggest rivals and I’m looking forward to that.
“It always represents a great challenge to play Nadal because of the fact that we have played so many times for the trophies.”
Nadal did not take a set off the Serbian throughout 2015, and his route to the final has been anything but a breeze, having to come from a set down against compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta, and had another three setter against Andrey Kuznetsov but hopefully will feel match fit for the kinds of gruelling rallies we tend to see from this pair.
The edge surely belongs to the Serbian who has dominated the tour throughout 2015, but the pressure is on to defend such an outstanding run. Of course the title here will have no bearing on seeding positions for the forthcoming Australian Open.
Djokovic and Nadal are scheduled on Centre Court at 6pm (3pm GMT).
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