Seven successive defeats had been the number for Rafael Nadal at the hands of Novak Djokovic. Today, however, on clay, Nadal dominated Djokovic 6-3, 6-1 to bank his first title of the season and his eight consecutive trophy at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters.
It’s been a difficult week for Djokovic who was informed of his grandfather’s death hours prior to playing his round of 16 match. Yet, Nadal must have had doubts coming into this final considering he had not beaten his rival since the Barclays ATP World tour Finals in November 2010.
From the get-go, Nadal was focused and broke early on to build a 3-1 advantage in the opening set. Djokovic did his utmost to zero in on the task at hand, but, the errors simply kept mounting even on his money stroke, the backhand.
Sealing another untroubled game with an ace, Nadal moved ahead 5-3. Then, with Djokovic sending a backhand long, Nadal had double set point. When the world number one pushed another backhand wide, Nadal broke for the second time to take the first set.
After swiftly guarding serve, Nadal provoked Djokovic into a backhand miscue for double break point. Once again, Djokovic obliged Nadal with a backhand mistake and gifted him the break. Subsequently, with a love hold, Nadal raced to a 3-0 lead.
By winning his sixth game in a row, Nadal got an insurance break for 4-0. Next, Djokovic manufactured his maiden break points of the afternoon and managed to break at love to get on the board, Yet, Nadal quickly reestablished his double break edge with a break at love of his own for 5-1.
As a result of an error by Djokovic, Nadal arrived at double championship. Later, with an ace, the Spaniard punctuated the set and recorded the victory.
Perhaps Djokovic’s apology for his performance was an indication that his mind was not totally on tennis. Nevertheless, he congratulated Nadal and stated “you deserve to win”. Djokovic expressed that he was “happy to reach the final for the second time . . .and it will be a pleasure to take a part in the tournament next year”.
Without question, Nadal was at his best on his best surface, dismissing Djokovic in 1 hour 18 minutes. While Nadal was thrilled with the outcome, he recognized that his opponent was not in peak form.
With this tongue and cheek comment, Nadal turned to Djokovic and said “thanks for letting me win today”. Moreover, Nadal cited that “it’s an honor to play on this court, in front of the fans”. With a winning streak of 42 straight matches, it’s no surprise that Nadal deemed Monte-Carlo “my favorite tournament”.
There are a myriad of events prior to the French Open on May 27th. Nadal moves on to Barcelona this upcoming week where he is the defending champion and will attempt to capture his seventh title. On April 30th, the Serbia Open begins where Djokovic will try to defend.