Monday, May 9, 2011
Djokovic beats Rafael Nadal in the final at the Madrid Masters
NOVAK Djokovic's watershed claycourt victory over world No.1 Rafael Nadal overnight has not only breathed fresh life into the French Open but also drawn the ultimate tennis compliment.
The Serb's stunning 7-5 6-4 victory over king of clay Nadal saw Djokovic tighten in Roland Garros markets and had coach Brad Gilbert describing his backhand as the best since Andre Agassi's.
Dual Australian Open champion Djokovic closed Nadal's rankings points lead after outplaying the Spaniard on his favourite surface, prompting Nadal to concede his reign at the top is almost over.
"The No. 1 ranking is not in danger - it's finished. Let's not lie to ourselves, that's the reality,'' Nadal said.
"Nobody likes to lose. I have to see what's missing and working with a cool, open mind to decipher things and find the solutions. To try to do a little better next time."
Gilbert was totally impressed as he watched the match on television in California.
"Djoker's backhand is one off the charts right now. He can do it all with that shot,'' Gilbert tweeted.
"The guy leans on his backhand like nobody - ala Andre.
"The man is clearly on his way to being No. 1 in the world, literally, in very short order.''
Djokovic is now a $4 second favourite for the French Open behind Nadal ($1.50), while Roger Federer has blown to $11.
Djokovic is unbeaten in 32 matches this season and is closing in on John McEnroe's record of 42-0, set in 1984 - the season in which the New Yorker was utterly dominant.
Djokovic downed Nadal on clay for the first time in 10 tries despite squandering a 4-0 first-set led to end Nadal's 37-match winning streak on clay.
Significantly, this was Djokovic's third consecutive victory over Nadal in finals this season - and his sixth title of the season.
"Probably it's right at the top,'' Djokovic rated the win. "Under the circumstances I was playing an unbelievable match.
"I stepped onto the court today believing I could win. I needed to be aggressive and it was a great match.''
Djokovic's run of 34 straight wins since Serbia's Davis Cup triumph in December is the eighth best of all time.
Nadal made no excuses.
"I came up against a great player obviously - he's having a monster year,'' Nadal said. "He was better, you have to accept that.''
Nadal also lost to Djokovic in the finals at Miami and Indian Wells this year.
Nadal's previous defeat on clay was against Robin Soderling at the French Open almost two years ago.
He had won six titles on clay since, and this was only his seventh loss on the surface in 196 matches since 2005.
Djokovic spent most of the past few seasons as the No. 3 player in the world behind Nadal and Federer, but started the year by winning the Australian Open and hasn't looked back.
"I'm happy I can play the best tennis when I needed to and maybe that was lacking a lot in the past,'' Djokovic said.
"Maybe that's what was missing against Rafa and Roger in the past tournaments.''
Nadal is at Djokovic's mercy in the rankings battle, having to defend the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open - and having no ability to extend his lead unless the Serb falters.
Posted by RAS at 5:03 AM