World number one Novak Djokovic has hailed Rafael Nadal as the best player in the world ahead of the two players meeting in tonight's US Open final in New York.
The number one and two seeds meet for the third time in a US Open final with the two previous encounters resulting in a win apiece.
It will be the 37th meeting between the Spaniard and the Serb throughout their careers, with the the head-to-head currently standing at 21-15 in Nadal's favour.
The 12-time Grand Slam winner has dropped serve only once throughout the entirety of this year's tournament.
"With no doubt he's the best player in the moment this year," said Djokovic, a six-time Grand Slam champion.
"It's always the biggest challenge that you can have in our sport now. I mean, he's the ultimate competitor out there.
"He's fighting for every ball and he's playing probably the best tennis that he has ever played on hard courts."
Since returning from injury Nadal has won all 21 of his hard court matches this year and is most people's favourite going into the Flushing Meadows final.
"I prefer to play against another opponent," said Nadal.
"Talking about a final, I want to play against a player that I have more chances to win.
"Novak is a great opponent. There are other ones, but it's true we have already played a lot of important matches for our career, so that makes that confrontation special.
"And when you have the chance to win against the most difficult players, it's true that the victory is more special.
"But not in a final of the US Open. In the final of the US Open, what's really is important is to win the tournament, not the opponent."
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