The unstoppable Novak Djokovic has beaten Rafael Nadal in a third consecutive Masters 1000 final. This time it was on Nadal’s home turf on clay in Madrid. If Novak was going to beat Nadal on clay, and there hasn’t really been any indication that Rafa is in the form he was last year on the red dirt, it was going to be in Madrid where the altitude effects his game. Djokovic played some unbelievable tennis to beat Nadal 7-5, 6-4.
It was a match on continuity either way. One way Nadal would have continued his 37 match (spanning two years) clay winning streak. The other would have Novak extend his unbeaten 2011 winning streak to 32 matches. The Madrid title was Novak’s sixth consecutive title – normally a haul considered great for an entire season!
It was a match with some incredible shots including a tweener lob from Rafa that really challenges Federer’s claim for the greatest shot in recent years.
Incredibly Novak has not beaten the King of Clay in any of their 9 previous matches on clay, but he came out swinging and raced to a 4-0 lead. Nadal managed to recover but not enough to save the set or the match. Djokovic was simply too sharp for a seemingly less than brilliant Nadal.
Nadal, while admitting it was hard to see a possible 20th Masters title slip away on his home ground, was realistic about Djokovic’s current form. “I came up against a great player obviously — he’s having a monster year.”
Madrid, in the last three years, seems to have become the place or turning points. In 2009 Rafa broke Novak’s focus and will for some months after his hard fought semi win over the Serb but in the process added to the damage in his weary knees that saw him off the circuit for week and Federer resume the top ranking. In 2010 Rafa resumed his clay court brilliance, winning Madrid to claim all three clay Masters, beating Federer in the process and re-taking the top ranking soon after. In 2011 Djokovic has now beaten the world number one in three finals, he has beaten everyone else that has come in his path, he has won everything he has entered and is surely soon to take the number one spot. It all happens in Madrid!
The significance of beating Nadal on clay in Madrid was not lost on either player, particularly Novak who said it was one of the things he most wanted to achieve this season. “Probably it’s right at the top. I stepped onto the court today believing I could win. I needed to be aggressive and it was a great match.”
“Under the circumstances, I’ve played probably the best match of my life on clay against the World No. 1 and the player to beat on this surface. The way I played was just fantastic. I’m definitely satisfied with the performance and the overall tournament.
I know that this run that I have is really incredible but I try to think about how long it’ll go and when I will be beaten. It’s how many more wins I’m going to have. Every time I go on the court I’m motivated to win and not thinking that this is the day I’ll lose.” – Novak Djokovic
“He’s playing at a really high level. We’ve got to accept that.
When someone is better than you there is nothing you can do other than congratulate him and that’s it and look forward to your next tournament and try to keep up, see what you’re missing, what you’re doing right and face forward with the correct attitude and with mental strength. You have to be cold, mentally speaking, and you have to look for solutions. Try to be better, try to practice and next time I’ll try to do better.” – Rafael Nadal