Madrid Masters: Unbeaten Djokovic ends Nadal’s run
Still unbeaten in 2011, Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in straight sets to win the Madrid Masters title
An inspired Novak Djokovic finally defeated Rafael Nadal on clay and maintained his unbeaten record in 2011 as he won the Madrid Masters 7-5 6-4.
The Serb had failed to beat the world No1 in nine previous clay-court encounters but managed to end Nadal’s 37-match winning streak on the dirt, which dated back to Roland Garros in 2009.
This impressive victory continues Djokovic’s blistering form in 2011. The world No2 has now recorded 32 consecutive victories – the second-best start to a season behind John McEnroe’s 42 back in 1984.
In fact the 23-year-old has not been beaten since the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals in November 2010. Since then he has won the Davis Cup with Serbia and has taken titles at the Australian Open, Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami, Belgrade and now in Madrid.
After Sunday’s final Djokovic said: “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 No1 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.”
Nadal, meanwhile, was typically gracious in defeat. “I came up against a great player obviously – he’s having a monster year,” said Nadal. “He was better, you have to accept that.”
Djokovic started the match today in explosive fashion, racing to a 4-0 lead and silencing the Caja MÃƒÂ¡gica.
He was forcing errors from a frustrated Nadal. Against the Spaniard on the clay you have to find the lines and Djokovic was doing just that with consummate ease.
Nadal responded with some punishing forehands and used his athleticism to grind down the Serb in a series of punishing rallies
Back level at 5-5 the momentum was with the Spaniard but Djokovic stepped up with some outrageous backhands down the line, and 2011’s man of the moment seized his opportunity to break to take the first set 7-5.
A moment of pure genius followed. Nadal looked to break Djokovic immediately at the start of the second and was helped by a sumptuous winner. The Spaniard hit an incredible winning lob between his legs while running back to retrieve a Djokovic lob.
The crowd was sent into raptures but the resilience Djokovic has displayed this season was once again on display when he broke straight back.
Despite several chances the set stayed on serve until 5-4, when the Djokovic hit three consecutive winners to break Nadal’s resolve and grab the title.
Victory edges Djokovic closer to the summit of the rankings, with the Serb having to defend very few points in the clay-court season.
And Nadal admits his reign as number one is almost over. “The number ranking is not in danger – it’s finished,” said the 24-year-old. “Let’s not lie to ourselves, that’s the reality.
“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.”