There’s no mystery, tomorrow in the Beijing final Novak Djokovic is the easy pick over Rafael Nadal. There’s really not much to discuss.
Sure, Nadal could win – and he has a chance, afterall he leads 23-21! – but there’s little indication to believe that will happen. Not with the way Djokovic has been dominating the Beijing event, winning all 28 matches there and this week no one has even gotten four games in a set or six total games in a match.
Nadal, though, has to be pleased with his week. We know hardcourts are not his best surface and this time of year he’s often running low of gas, but he got a confidence-building win over Fabio Fognini today, so even if he does lose tomorrow it’s been a positive week and if he can continue to go deep in events it looks better for next year.
“Playing matches is the best practice possible, trying to do things in the matches, to have better feelings, practice the things that I need to do next year,” said Nadal. “I think today was an important victory. I really played the way that I wanted to play.”
Meanwhile, Djokovic continues to impress. Remember, he’s already wrapped up No. 1. He’s won Beijing five times already. He’s got a wife, a baby about to celebrate his first birthday and yet here he is, giving it his all. So give him credit for competing when really – see Serena – he doesn’t have to.
“When my boy arrived in this life, on this planet, it was completely a new dimension of experience for me and my wife. I’m still riding on the wave of that experience,” Djokovic said. “It has been the best thing that has ever happened in my life.”
And I think tomorrow he’ll be extra motivated against Rafa in this rivalry that once was the best in the sport – that baton has been passed to Djokovic-Federer.
So what can Nadal do? Assuming Djokovic plays his game and plays it well, Rafa will have to serve extremely well (first and especially second serves) and get some pop and length off that forehand. But we haven’t really seen Rafa do either of those things this year, and I’m not sure he even can anymore. Therefore, I expect this to be an uneventful and routine for Novak.
The Pick: Djokovic in two
While favorites Djokovic and Nadal both won their semifinals, over in Tokyo defending champion Kei Nishikori was stunned yet again by mister Benoit Paire 1-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Paire is quite a talent, but his head hasn’t always been screwed on right. Apparently, though, it has been this week and he seem to find his game against Nishikori who he has beaten at the US Open and now in Kei’s backyard, both decided in final sets, a strength of Nishikori’s.
“Kei was playing unbelievably well in the first set,” said Paire who has won titles at all three pro levels this year. “I couldn’t do anything, he made no mistakes. He wasn’t missing and hitting every ball on the line. The only thing I could do was stay focused and try to hold my serve. That’s what I did and I began to build my confidence. But then I think he began to feel to the pressure. In the third set, it was different. I was playing very well, aggressively and serving well. I think I was better in the third set.”
But Paire will have his hands more than full tomorrow with the Swiss Bull, Stan Wawrinka. They’re friends, but Wawrinka’s the better player.
The Beijing women’s final pits Singapore hopeful Timea Bacsinszky against Garbine Muguruza. The Spaniard Muguruza, who has already qualified, beat Agnieszka Radwanska in three. The Swiss defeated Ana Ivanovic also in three sets. The loss eliminated Ivanovic from the year-end event.
We hadn’t heard from Muguruza since her Wimbledon final, but under the watchful eye of new coach Sam Sumyk (used to coach Azarenka), the 22-year-old has won eight of her last nine matches and has reached two straight years after losing last week to Venus. And she’ll be ranked No. 4 come Monday. Good to have her getting results again.
For you night owls and early risers, she’ll battle Timea at 4am ET. Djokovic and Nadal will square off at 7:30am ET. Wawrinka and Paire will got at it at midnight ET from Tokyo.
BEIJING SUNDAY SCHEDULE
NATIONAL TENNIS STADIUM start 1:00 pm
ATP – V. Pospisil (CAN) / J. Sock (USA) vs  D. Nestor (CAN) / E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA)
Not Before 4:00 pm
WTA –  G. Muguruza (ESP) vs  T. Bacsinszky (SUI)
Not Before 7:30 pm
ATP –  N. Djokovic (SRB) vs  R. Nadal (ESP)
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