Novak Djokovic kept his winning streak and perfect season alive today. Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in the final of the Sony Ericsson Open 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 to win his second title in Miami and his fourth consecutive of the season.
It was the second week in a row that Nadal and Djokovic, world number one and two respectively, were meeting in a Masters 1000 final. The last time the top two players clashed for the title at this tournament in1995, number two Andre Agassi beat number one Pete Sampras in a third set tiebreaker.
With a backhand up the line pass for a winner on his second break point opportunity, Nadal obtained a 2-1 advantage. It was the first time, Djokovic had dropped serve this tournament.
After going down double break point, Nadal found the equalizer. The Spaniard survived another break point before consolidating for 3-1.
Then, Nadal captured a second break for 4-1. The Spaniard salvaged another break point before widening his lead to 5-1. Nadal dropped serve trying to close out the set the first time around. But, despite difficulties, on his second attempt Nadal banked the set.
After wasting multiple break points in the initial set, Djokovic aided by errors from Nadal seized the break for 2-0 in the second. Subsequent to wiping out a break point, Djokovic consolidated for 3-0 when Nadal’s slice backhand found the net.
Djokovic pressured Nadal on serve while having an easier time himself. At 40-0, Djokovic sent a beautiful lob for a winner to stretch his gap to 4-1. Ultimately, with an ace on triple set point, Djokovic threw the gauntlet for a deciding set.
The opening game of the third, Nadal overcame love-30 to hold. Serving at 1-2, Djokovic battled a similar predicament and got to 2 all. As the set progressed, despite a few 15-30 or 0-30 games, neither manufactured a break point. Fittingly, the championship was settled by a tiebreaker.
The first four points of the tiebreaker, neither competitor maintained serve. When Nadal double faulted, Djokovic had a mini-break at 3-2. With Nadal’s next two strokes sailing wide, Djokovic had a 5-2 cushion.
Following, Djokovic struck a forehand winner down the line for 6-2 and four championship points. Although Nadal won the next two points, on his third opportunity, Djokovic connected on forehand winner to pocket the trophy.
Djokovic became the seventh player to prevail both in Miami and Indian Wells the same season. The last was Roger Federer in 2006. Also, Djokovic collected his seventh Masters’ shield.
Moreover, Djokovic becomes the fourth individual to triumph at the Australian Open and the first two Masters 1000 events the same year. Again, it was last done by Federer in 2006.
Djokovic’s record is 24-0 for the year, however dating back to the 2010 Davis Cup, he is 26-0.
It’s the third longest winning streak in a season. Ivan Lendl’s was 25 in 1986 and John McEnroe 39 in 1984.
After the match, Djokovic expressed “it was one of the closest and best finals that I have ever played. To be able to win against a great champion like Nadal, [the world number one]. . . I think it was very high level of tennis. I think everybody enjoyed, even us. It was very close, and up to the last stroke we really didn’t know which way it was going to go”.
Djokovic felt he turned the match around by “ [decreasing] the number of unforced errors in the second set, which was important to me. I wanted to make him play an extra shot, not give him a lot of free points and get some free points on [my] serve”.
In reference to the win at Indian Wells whether it gave him an advantage coming into today. Djokovic responded “I don’t think it affected today’s match too much. Maybe from the mental side slightly you have some advantage knowing that you won against your opponent. . . two weeks ago”.
The clay season is days away. MiamiTennisNews.com asked Djokovic considering the great battles the two had on that surface in 2009, what would he have to do to beat Nadal this year.
Djokovic replied “if I have an opportunity to play him on clay, I have to be aggressive. Clay is the slowest surface and suits him best. Over the years, he’s been the king of that surface. . . I guess you’ve got to step in, believe and play your game. I think I have the game to challenge him on that surface and I showed that in 2009”.
After the match, Nadal said “[Djokovic] is playing with confidence. . .the best moment of his career. I didn’t play as well as I did during tournament today. I was a little bit more tired than usual. But, it’s part of the game. Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose”.
Still Nadal cited “ I had chances in both places. . . When you’re winning, it’s easier to keep winning. . . I didn’t serve as well as I had during the tournament. . . [Still] I was fighting until the last point. . . I love these kind of matches. . . I love to win, not lose. But from everything you learn, I had a fantastic American hardcourt season, two finals, and ready for clay”
Nadal had six double faults. Consequently, MiamiTennisNews.com wanted to know what he felt went wrong with his serve. Nadal answered “one [double fault] is too many. . . I always say if I knew the reason, I would never do it again. . . Maybe I was a little more nervous than other days, second final in a row. . . I’ve never won here and this was my third chance. I played against a player who’s playing well and I lost last week”.
Nadal is looking forward to moving to clay “normally when I play well on clay I have a little bit more advantage, so we’ll see what happens in Monte-Carlo. I’m going to start practicing on clay. . .always an [adjustment] after almost ten months [of hardcourt]. . . First tournament on clay is always important, important for my confidence. . . . I’m going to try my best for the seventh [title in Monte-Carlo].