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BBC experts on Nadal v Djokovic

Graphic of Rafael Nadal v Novak Djokovic

The world's top two players Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic go head-to-head in the men's singles final at Wimbledon on Sunday.

Regardless of the outcome of the match, Djokovic will depose Nadal from the top of the world rankings because of his incredible run of form that has seen him lose just once in 47 matches.

Nadal has gone 20 matches without defeat at Wimbledon and was in awesome form against Andy Murray in their semi-final.

Nadal and Roger Federer have won 21 out of the last 24 majors, but Djokovic's stunning consistency is threatening to disrupt that order, so it is shaping up to be a spectacular encounter on Centre Court.

Here, three-time Wimbledon champion John McEnroe analyses why Novak Djokovic has enjoyed such a spectacular year and Tim Henman looks at the game of Rafael Nadal.

WHAT ARE THE STRENGTHS OF BOTH PLAYERS?

John McEnroe

MCENROE on DJOKOVIC

He has got more belief in his ability now. He cleared up his fitness issues and is now fitter than ever. His defensive skills are unbelievable and he moves great. The serve is maybe the biggest thing - he has straightened it out as he had been having problems with that for about a year and a half.

NADAL v DJOKOVIC OVERALL HEAD-TO-HEADS
27 meetings
Nadal: 16 wins
Djokovic: 11 wins

He seems to have put everything together at the same time. When he won the Davis Cup [for Serbia] I think that was a real moment for his country, it brought him to a whole new level and he has just taken it up a gear, it is quite amazing.

Tim Henman

HENMAN on NADAL

How is he able to keep his level of play and his intensity going for so long? What always impresses me is how well he plays with room for such a small margin of error. It seems relatively low-risk tennis but his serve is very effective being a leftie, and thanks to that it gives him the chance to dominate with his forehand.

Once he gets the ball on that famous forehand, he can whip winners from anywhere on the court. Not only that, but he is such a good athlete that he is really difficult to hit through. And his lack of unforced errors is phenomenal.

WHAT ARE THEIR WEAKNESSES?

John McEnroe

MCENROE on DJOKOVIC

He is maybe not so comfortable approaching the net, his net skills are getting better but maybe they are not what he would like them to be. I think Rafa has got more all-round confidence when it comes to closing to the net.

His second serve is also probably something that concerns him, given what has happened to it over the last two years. At the moment he is doing everything pretty well all-round.

Tim Henman

HENMAN on NADAL

As a guy that liked to serve and volley, I would still definitely employ that tactic against Nadal.

Del Potro used it 30-40 times in their fourth-round match and won it probably 80% of the time. A slow wide serve at the deuce box is effective as Rafa has to take one hand off the racquet to play a sliced return, which would give Djokovic time to get into the net.

NADAL v DJOKOVIC HEAD-TO-HEAD IN 2011
World Tour Masters Indian Wells: DJOKOVIC 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
ATP World Tour Masters Miami: DJOKOVIC 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4)
ATP World Tour Masters Madrid: DJOKOVIC 7-5, 6-4
ATP World Tour Masters Rome: DJOKOVIC 6-4, 6-4

When Federer beat him at the World Tour Finals that was something he used very well, so it is a good tactic.

If you can get players running to play a backhand and you are at the net it provides good opportunities, but it is so tough to get them against a player of Rafa's class.

HOW MENTALLY STRONG ARE THEY?

John McEnroe

MCENROE on DJOKOVIC

I think he is expressing himself more than before as he bottled himself up a little too much. Yes, he used to joke around doing impressions of other players' serve, but now I think you are seeing more of his personality. It is an important thing that has helped people feel better about him.

He has put people away, where previously he would get himself in situations where he would let opponents back into matches. Now he is finishing them off quickly and that helps you down the road in tournaments when you need energy against the best guys.

Tim Henman

HENMAN on NADAL

I don't think I can think of another sportsman who competes better than he does. I think he is one of the greatest competitors in any sport I have ever seen. He never lets anything affect him, he plays every point as if his life depends on it, which is an unbelievable quality when you play at the level he does.

WHO IS THE REAL WORLD NUMBER ONE IN YOUR EYES?

John McEnroe

MCENROE'S VERDICT

We are halfway through the year so let's hold our horses here. It will be a great final and whoever wins this will have two majors and the other man will have one.

In my book, whoever wins the match on Sunday will be number one at that time - forget what the computer says on Monday.

Tim Henman

HENMAN'S VERDICT

I think it is Djokovic, as the rankings don't lie and he has only lost once this year. On Monday he will have more points than anyone else, he will be world number one and he thoroughly deserves it. The ranking system is over a 12-month period and you don't buy those points, you earn them.


Tim Henman was talking to BBC Sport's Paul Birch and John McEnroe was talking to BBC Sport's Louis Myles.



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see also
Djokovic's recipe for success
03 Jul 11 |  Tennis
Murray regrets high-risk tactics
02 Jul 11 |  Tennis
Murray v Nadal analysis
01 Jul 11 |  Tennis
Nadal beats Murray at Wimbledon
01 Jul 11 |  Tennis
Nadal ends Murray's hopes again
02 Jul 11 |  Tennis
Djokovic reaches Wimbledon final
02 Jul 11 |  Tennis
Murray ready for Nadal challenge
01 Jul 11 |  Tennis
Murray wins to set up Nadal semi
30 Jun 11 |  Tennis
Nadal fights through to last four
29 Jun 11 |  Tennis
Majestic Nadal holds off Murray
10 Jun 11 |  Tennis


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