After Rafael Nadal retired with a knee injury against Juan Martin Del Potro, and Novak Djokovic defeated Kei Nishikori in straight sets, we’re all set for a US Open final featuring former champions Del Potro and Djokovic facing off. Both players have overcome significant injury problems to reach this stage again, Del Potro seeking his second Grand Slam (and second US Open title), while Djokovic is seeking Grand Slam #14 and his third career US Open Title. With both players in good form, and having overcome adversity to reach this point, it looks be a thrilling final, our panelists offer up their predictions.
Novak Djokovic vs Juan Martin Del Potro
Lukas Weese: This is the first time that Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin Del Potro are meeting in a Grand Slam final. Del Potro is trying to win his second Grand Slam and US Open, his first coming in 2009 when he beat Roger Federer in five sets. Novak Djokovic is trying solidify himself as the player of the year with his second major and 14th of his career with a US Open win on Sunday. Del Potro is coming into this match after Rafael Nadal had to retire due to injury, while Djokovic breezed by Nishikori in a straight set victory. Both players have not played long matches on the court this tournament so will be fresh in preparation for this Final.
Djokovic has a 14-4 head to head record over Del Potro. While Djokovic is playing at a high level, I think the crowd will be behind Del Potro, particularly his boisterous box of Argentine fans. He has the blazing groundstrokes that can catch Djokovic off balance and a serve that when on, is one of the best on Tour. It will be close, it will feature tremendous shotmaking. Just like in 2009, I like Del Potro to pull this off. He has 17 wins over Top 10 players and I see him adding his 18th by beating Djokovic. Del Potro in 5
Utkarsha Mitra: Del Potro is finally back in the final of a Grand Slam. And it had to be in New York. His win over Nadal was due to the latter’s retirement, so he’ll be well rested before the final. Djokovic, though, is playing some of his best tennis this week and will be the favorite going into the final. But, DelPo believes that he belongs with these guys and I think he’ll prove once again. Del Potro in 5
Brett Margolies: Juan Martin Del Potro should be well rested come Sunday after a straightforward semifinal win over an injured Rafael Nadal. This matchup hasn’t presented many issues for Djokovic in the past. He’s 14-4 H2H against Del Potro and has won three straight. Del Potro usually finds a way to play his best on the big stage, so I expect him to keep it close, but Djokovic has been the best this whole summer. Look for his dominance to continue as he wins the US Open for the third time in his career. Djokovic in 4
Steen Kirby: Del Potro was dominating Nadal before a knee injury did him in, while Djokovic crushed Nishikori, a player who fought hard but simply didn’t have enough firepower to win the matchup. In the h2h matchup Djokovic leads Del Potro 14-4, but three of those four Del Potro wins have come on a hard court meaning the Argentine deserves more than a chance here.
For as well as Del Potro has played, Djokovic hasn’t dropped a set in his last four matches and given his record in Slams and slam finals, Djokovic has to be the favorite to capture a third US Open title. Djokovic in 4
Eric Han: Nothing much separates between these two players in terms of statistics in this year’s tournament. Both del Potro and Djokovic will be feeling refreshed as they both had relatively comfortable semi-final matches. The crowd on Arthur Ashe will no doubt be pro-Argentine, and Del Potro will feed on their energy to focus and play well. I am predicting the Argentine to reclaim his US Open crown after nine long years simply because I feel he ‘wants’ it more, and has been playing at a high level consistently all tournament. Del Potro in 4