By Ros Satar

  • Novak Djokovic [6] v Juan Martin Del Potro [3]
  • Head to Head: Djokovic leads 14-4
NEW YORK, USA – Juan Martin Del Potro will aim to win just his second Grand Slam title, while Novak Djokovic aims for a 14th after winning Wimbledon earlier this year.

 

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After all the drama of the Women’s final, what awaits us at the conclusion of this year’s US Open, with Juan Martin Del Potro taking on Novak Djokovic in the battle of the former champions.

 

Juan Martin Del Potro’s Path to the Final

Juan Martin Del Potro in the semi-final of the US Open, New York 2018

Juan Martin Del Potro in the semi-final of the US Open, New York 2018 | (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

  • R1: Donald Young 6-0 6-3 6-4
  • R2: Denis Kudla 6-3 6-1 7-6(4)
  • R3: Fernando Verdasco [31] 7-5 7-6(6) 6-3
  • R4: Borna Coric [20] 6-4 6-3 6-1
  • QF: John Isner [11] 6-7(5) 6-4 7-6(4) 6-2
  • SF: Rafael Nadal [1] 7-6(3) 6-2 RET

Del Potro has looked very impressive, not just here but with a pretty consistent year. He has listened to his body when his wrist has played up and cut tournament to make sure he has healed up.

Admittedly his semi-final was cut short due to Rafael Nadal’s injury, but he had been able to go toe-to-toe with the World No. 1 to that point in the first set. He has dropped just one set on his way to the final, against John Isner, before booking his spot in a second Slam final.

 

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Novak Djokovic’s Path to the Final

Novak Djokovic in the fourth round of the US Open, New York 2018

Novak Djokovic in the fourth round of the US Open, New York 2018. | (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)”n”n

  • R1: Marton Fucsovics 6-3 3-6 6-4 6-0
  • R2: Tennys Sandgren 6-1 6-2 6-7(2) 6-2
  • R3: Richard Gasquet [26] 6-2 6-3 6-3
  • R4: Joao Sousa 6-3 6-4 6-3
  • QF: John Millman 6-3 6-4 6-4
  • SF: Kei Nishikori [21] 6-3 6-4 6-2

Djokovic’s path started in the oppressive heat of the New York summer, and was almost derailed at the start as he really struggled in the conditions in his opening round (and the less we say about the naked ice bath break, the better)!

However, he really caught a break with the departure of Roger Federer in the fourth round, and since the third round he has looked more and more solid as he closes in on a third title in the Big Apple, and following reinforcing his comeback after injury with fourth Wimbledon title and looking for a third Slam in New York.

 

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Novak Djokovic [6] v Juan Martin Del Potro [3] | Djokovic leads H2H 14-4

We have a close and worthy final coming up (hopefully with none of the drama of Saturday’s final) but there are plenty of challenges for the pair.  While Djokovic has always had the upper hand in their meetings at a Slam level, Del Potro has delivered the blows when it has come to the Olympics.

Djokovic will want to draw upon his experiences against Del Potro in New York, in particular, which two straight sets wins. While Djokovic was enjoying his periods of dominance on the tour, Del Potro, having stunned Federer in 2009 embarked upon a rollercoaster of injuries and operations, doubting he would even play again, much less find himself at a career high ranking, and challenging once more for a Slam.

Much has been discussed about the changes and alterations to the Del Potro backhand and we saw previously that Nadal’s strategy for peppering the backhand got him three wins over the Tower of Tandil three slam encounters in a row. We ought to expect more of the same.

Djokovic’s movement, precision and aggression will see him try and dominate rallies, and he will look to be pouncing with his returns – he is one of the best in the business. He will want to mix things up a lot for the Argentine, but Del Potro does have some good hands and a considerably light touch for a big guy – his one-handed slice backhand can frustrate many.

This deserves to be a five setter, and despite his ranking, Djokovic emerges as the slight favourite but is unlikely to be allowed to get his nose too far ahead.

Prediction: Djokovic in five sets.

 

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