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    Djokovic, Nadal to renew rivalry in US Open final

    Monday’s US Open men’s final marks a resumption of the most heated rivalry in tennis, pitting world No. 1 Novak Djokovic against No. 2 Rafael Nadal.

    Nadal, the 27-year-old Spaniard with the spin-slathered strokes and fierce fighting spirit, boasts a 21-15 record against Djokovic, a 26-year-old Serb with unparalleled retrieval skills and a drive equal to Nadal’s.

    But asked how he feels about taking on Djokovic for a 37th time — and the third time in four years with the US Open title at stake — Nadal smiled after mulling the prospect.


    ‘‘I prefer to play against another one,’’ he said. ‘‘We have to be honest, no? We don’t have to be stupid.’’

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    It was an acknowledgment of respect on Nadal’s part — an admission that whether he wins or loses, Djokovic will extract every ounce of energy, every drop of effort in pursuit of the title.

    Djokovic will retain his No. 1 ranking regardless of Monday’s outcome. But Nadal would stake a compelling claim with a victory, becoming the only man to win more than one major this season.

    Said Djokovic: ‘‘With no doubt, he’s the best player in the moment this year, no question about it.’’