Pick: Rafael Nadal
Though a Federer-fan(atic) myself, I’ve got to go with Rafa this time. Let’s face the facts – Rafa’s taken home the trophy at the last three slams on three different surfaces (clay, grass, and hard). His last loss (in a Slam) came at the Aussie Open last year, when he was ousted by Scot Andy Murray in the quarterfinals. Keep in mind, Nadal was forced to retire in that match, down two sets and 3-0 in the third, due to a knee injury.
I know that the hard courts have been Rafa’s least favorite surface over the years (winning only 1 US Open and 1 Australian Open, compared to his 2 Wimbledon titles and 5 French Open titles), but I’ve got to believe that he’s set to prove everyone wrong, as he has been doing in the last couple of years. Look for a rematch between Federer and Nadal in the final (something we haven’t seen since the 2009 Australian Open), with Nadal (once again) prevailing in 5 sets.
Pick: Caroline Wozniacki
With Serena out, I think Wozniacki has got to be the favorite. She’s been the most consistent player on the tour over the last year, and I think it’s about time she wins her 1st Grand Slam. I think that she’s never been passed the 4th round here, but she’s been successful on hard courts in her career (a finals and semi-finals finish in the last 2 US Opens) and I expect her to eek out in a close 3-set final against veteran Kim Clijsters.
Surprise, surprise folks. Will we finally see that Rafa-Roger clash that we’ve all been waiting for? As mentioned above, the two have not met in a Grand Slam final since the Aussie Open in 2009, when Nadal defeated Federer in 5 sets. The last time they faced off in a non-Grand Slam event was at the year-end Masters in London, with Roger prevailing in 3 sets.
Now, let’s take a more in-depth look at the numbers highlighting their rivalry…
Federer: 29 | Nadal: 24
Total Grand Slams
Federer: 16 | Nadal: 9
*Note that both Federer and Nadal have completed the career Grand Slam (winning all 4 majors).
Federer: 67 | Nadal: 43
Weeks at #1
Federer: 285 | Nadal: 78
Overall: 14-8 (Nadal)
Grand Slams: 6-2 (Nadal)
Five-set matches: 3-2 (Nadal)
Clay courts: 10-2 (Nadal)
Hard courts: 4-3 (Federer)
Grass courts: 2-1 (Federer)
These numbers point to one basic conclusion – that while Federer’s overall resume is more impressive than Nadal’s, that the Spaniard has dominated the rivalry between the two (at least at the Grand Slams). I’m not sure what means for who will go down in history as the better player, but I think that this question should be tabled for a couple more years.