The best rivalry in men’s tennis gets renewed in U.S. Open final

“He lost three matches this year,” Djokovic said. “With no doubt, he’s the best player in the moment this year, no question about it.”

This will be their sixth meeting in a Grand Slam final.

In addition to the split at Flushing Meadows, they’ve met once each at the other three Grand Slams.

Included in those matches was their five-set Australian Open masterpiece in 2012 that went 5 hours, 53 minutes, a record for a Grand Slam final.

Later that year, they had a four-set final at the French Open that stretched over two days because of the rain.

This year, Nadal pulled out a 9-7 win in the fifth set of a semifinal at Roland Garros, denying Djokovic a chance at the closing leg of the career Grand Slam he most dearly wanted to honor his one-time coach, Jelena Gencic, who died earlier during the tournament.

Their only meeting this year on a hard court came in a U.S. Open tuneup in Montreal, where Nadal won the best-of-3-sets match in a third-set tiebreaker.

Indeed, these are always memorable affairs, though Nadal acknowledged with a laugh that he’d rather be playing someone else.

“In the end, we have to be honest, no?” he said. “Talking about a final, I’d want to play against a player that I have more chances to win. But I play against him. I’ve played against him a lot of times. Always, we’ve played very exciting matches.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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