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By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - Novak Djokovic
Nadal leads Djokovic 22-16 in their head-to-head record, but the Serbian won their latest encounter last month in Beijing after losing his top ranking to the Spaniard.
Djokovic, undefeated in last year's Finals, improved to 2-0 in Group B with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory over the hard-hitting Juan Martin del Potro. Federer, who lost to Djokovic earlier in the week, easily defeated Richard Gasquet.
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have built the best rivalry in tennis on a mountain of big-time matches, the likes of which they'll play Monday in the U.S. Open final
The 2012 runner-up at Flushing Meadows needed just over 2 hours, 10 minutes to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Tuesday.
Each took a step forward Friday, shaky at moments and sensational in others, in second-round victories. The top-seeded Djokovic faced two early set points, while defending champion Murray had to go four sets.
There was a turn-back-the-clock feel to Day 1 at the 2013 U.S. Open, when both sisters were about as good as can be, dropping a combined four games in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Of the four men preparing for Friday's semifinals at Wimbledon, nobody has had skated through a less-taxing road than the top-ranked and top-seeded Serb, who remains the odds-on favorite to win his seventh Grand Slam title.
During a tournament with more than its share of twists and turns — to say nothing of slips and slides — Djokovic and del Potro have gone through virtually unscathed, on the scoreboard at least. Neither man has dropped a set.
Djokovic and Murray have yet to lose a set, let alone a match, so far at Wimbledon. The way things have been going at the All England Club this fortnight, that's quite an accomplishment.
Week 2 begins Monday with a schedule that includes participants such as Kenny de Schepper and Adrian Mannarino, Ivan Dodig and Jerzy Janowicz, Karin Knapp and Monica Puig.
By the end of Thursday, all 11 U.S. men in the 2013 field at the All England Club were gone, with top-seeded Novak Djokovic accounting for the last one by beating 156th-ranked qualifier Bobby Reynolds 7-6 (2), 6-3, 6-1.
The seven-time champion twice let a lead slip away in the fourth set Friday, then came from behind in the fifth to beat the No. 1-ranked Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7 (3), 9-7.
Djokovic, the winner of six major titles, seeks to become the eighth man to complete a career Grand Slam, but he'll have to get past seven-time French Open champion Nadal first.
Djokovic will next play 35-year-old Tommy Haas, who became the oldest French Open men's quarterfinalist since 1971 by beating Mikhail Youzhny 6-1, 6-1, 6-3. Haas is also the oldest man to reach the quarters at any major event since Andre Agassi at the 2005 U.S. Open.
There were moments, as recently as last year, when a body that would not stay healthy and on-court results prompted Bethanie Mattek-Sands to wonder whether it was simply time to call it a career after more than a decade as a professional tennis player.
"The performance was definitely by far the best I've had in the tournament," said Djokovic, who is bidding for a third title at the elite event and has been the dominant player of the indoor season.
"With his serve it's definitely a big advantage if I can get a break advantage and close it out," said Djokovic, who saved two break points early in the decider before taking del Potro's serve for a 4-2 lead. "I'm very glad I could win."