With Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal set to meet in their second straight U.S. Open final on Monday, the men's tournament appears to be in replay mode.
Entering the blockbuster rematch in the season's final Grand Slam, Nadal, the defending champion, is peaking again after several years of failures in fitness and self-belief at the Open. On Saturday, he waxed fourth seed Andy Murray while dropping only his first set of fortnight.
Before Nadal's convincing semifinal win, Novak Djokovic echoed his 2010 semifinal victory against Roger Federer by once again rallying through a pair of match points to topple the five-time champion.
There are differences from 2010, however.
Djokovic, not Nadal, is the top seed in 2011, a year in which the 24-year-old Serbian has compiled a 63-2 record, including nine titles in 10 finals. What's more, he has mastered the 25-year-old Nadal in all five of the 2011 finals they’ve played, including two on U.S. hardcourts.
On Saturday, Nadal described the challenge presented by an opponent he admits has no real weaknesses.
"You have Novak in front [of you] and you say, 'How I can beat him?'" Nadal said. “The only way to beat him is believe in the victory, play aggressive and play every moment perfect. So that’s what I have to try.”
Djokovic is fresh off his best win within a year of great ones. He said he has the confidence to prevent a repeat of his four-set loss to Nadal in last year's Open final.
"I know that I have a game that is good enough to win against him," said Djokovic, the Australian Open and Wimbledon champion. "I proved that this year in three different surfaces, so I believe that I have a good chance."