In today’s final of the Monte Carlo Masters, Rafael Nadal telegraphed to his peers that their clay season would be a long one. The Spaniard took down Serbian Novak Djokovic 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 for a historic fifth straight title.
After dropping serve in his opening game, the Serb came right back and broke the Spaniard. Then leading 2-1, Djokovic fabricated numerous break point chances by picking on Nadal’s forehand side and eventually converted. However, as Djokovic tried to consolidate, Nadal produced a forehand down the line winner, caused the Serb to miss a volley and to kick a backhand into the net for triple break point. Then, by compelling a forehand error, Nadal reinserted himself into the set. With great defense and a series of crosscourt winners from each wing, Nadal got the equalizer for 3-3. Subsequently, poor shot selection by Djokovic, including two dropshots, and a few backhand errors, the Spaniard was in front 4-3. After an unadventurous service game, Nadal placed a period on the set with a break.
Djokovic merits recognition for pushing Nadal to earn his kept. With Rafael having game point, Novak made a forehand volley winner for deuce. With Nadal’s forehand crosscourt failing to go over the net, Djokovic had break point. In a thirty four stroke rally, with Nadal relentlessly pursuing shots that should have been point ending, Djokovic finally put an overhead out of the stadium to secure the break. Soon afterward, unable to find the range on the backhand, Djokovic faced double break point. Yet, the net and a forehand crosscourt error by Rafael saved Novak. Nadal had another opportunity with a forehand up the line winner; but, Djokovic answered with a backhand volley winner and despite further difficulties extended his lead to 3-1. The next game, Djokovic gained the upper hand in the majority of the long rallies allowing him to secure an insurance break for 4-1. Djokovic wrapped up the set at 6-2. For the first time since the 2006 final, Nadal had surrendered a set.
In the decisive set, with an inside out forehand crosscourt error by Nadal, Djokovic had break point. A sensational forehand volley by Djokovic should have terminated another endless rally. But, Nadal literally brought his rival to his knees by flicking a forehand crosscourt winner. After rubbing off two more break points, Nadal pocketed the first game with a forehand crosscourt winner. Then, after leading 40-15, Djokovic double faulted twice, made a backhand error and a dropshot booboo to help Nadal go forward 2-0. Now fuming, Djokovic sent a ball flying into the stands. Subsequently, after having game point a few times, Nadal lost his way and his advantage. However, Djokovic’s inaccuracy on first serve resulted in Nadal manufacturing double break point. A deep return forehand by Nadal forced Djokovic to misfire on the forehand and the Spaniard was again in front 3-1. With his first ace, the Spaniard easily consolidated for 4-1. Considering the first three games lasted over 40 minutes, a deflated Djokovic offered no further resistance and the remainder of set flew. As a backhand down the line and a dropshot by Djokovic failed to clear the net, Nadal had double break point. The Spaniard widened his margin by 5-1 when Djokovic obliged him with a double fault. Then, with four straight unforced errors, Djokovic sealed his faith.