Novak & Rafa: The Rivalry, Matches 11-20
A recap of every match between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal...
2009 BNP Paribas Masters semi-final, Paris, indoor hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 62 63
In-form Djokovic, a winner at the Davidoff Swiss Indoors Basel just six days previous, cruised into the final with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Nadal in 77 minutes. Djokovic broke serve to love in the sixth and eighth games of an entertaining 34-minute first set. Nadal won eight of 18 service points, including three aces, and 12 points overall. Djokovic opened up a 3-0 lead in the second set, courtesy of another service break to love in the second game. At 4-2, Djokovic recovered from 15/30 by winning three points in a row. Nadal kept fighting, but never looked likely to reach his first indoor final since February at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. "There's not much to say about today's performance, except it was perfect," said Djokovic, who hit 31 winners. "[It was] exactly the way I wanted it. I have done, tactically-wise, everything that I imagined to do and planned to do before the match. I was very aggressive. [I] took the early control of the match over my opponent, and it paid off. I was hitting winners from all over the court and really trying to keep that momentum going throughout the whole match. I didn't give him many chances to come back into the match."
2009 Western & Southern Financial Group Masters semi-final, Cincinnati, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 61 64
Djokovic snapped a five-match losing streak against Nadal, repeating his 2008 semi-final win over the Spaniard in Cincinnati to charge into the final for the second consecutive year. He raced away with the first set in 29 minutes and then closed out the 6-1, 6-4 win in 91 minutes after facing just one break point in the match. Nadal, playing just his second tournament back since Roland Garros as he battled knee tendinitis, fought valiantly in the second set to make the match a contest. He staved off three break points in the opening game of the second set, forced Djokovic to save a break point at 4-3 and then also took Djokovic to deuce in the final game of the match before his young rival served out just his fifth win in 19 meetings with Nadal. "Obviously I have to be very pleased with the way I played," said Djokovic, who won 75 per cent of first-serves points. "This has been one of the best matches of the season so far. I was trying to be from the first point in the control of the match, be very aggressive, and take the chances on each shot or ball that I had. That's what I did."
2009 Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open semi-final, Madrid, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 36 76(5) 76(9)
For the third time in five weeks the pair met. It was dramatic theatre and arguably their best match to date. Nadal saved three match points in a dramatic final-set tie-break to beat Djokovic 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(9) in four hours and two minutes for a spot in the final. It is believed to be the longest best-of-three sets match on the ATP World Tour in the Open Era (since 1968). It was the first time Nadal had played a third set tie-break on clay since 11 July 2003, when he lost to Nicolas Lapentti at Bastad, Sweden. Djokovic had the better of the opening exchanges and led Nadal 3-0 – courtesy of service break in the second game. The third seed managed to maintain his advantage, winning 20 of 26 service points to take the first set in 51 minutes. Djokovic’s fluency continued in the second set, but he was left to rue missed opportunities for service breaks in the third and ninth games. Nadal managed to fight off another break point in an 11-minute game for a 6-5 lead and went on to create his first break point opportunity, a set point, in the next game. Nadal maintained his record of never losing a tie-break against Djokovic to level the score line. Djokovic regained his composure to open up a 3-1 lead, after breaking Nadal in the fourth game. But Nadal responded with an immediate service break of his own. In the third-set tie-break Djokovic created his first match point when he hit a forehand winner for a 6-5 lead, but he could not capitalise on the chance as Nadal hit a forehand winner down the line from a long baseline rally. A second match point went begging on a Nadal second serve at 7-6, when Nadal wrong-footed Djokovic with a series of forehands before hitting the winning forehand stroke on approach to the net. Nadal’s first match point came and went at 8-7. Djokovic hit a nerveless forehand winner, having hit a second serve to Nadal’s forehand, for his third match point at 9-8 after four hours of play. Nadal gritted his teeth once again, and urged on by his compatriots was able to recover to 10-9 courtesy of a Djokovic forehand in the net and a forehand winner down the line. Nadal seized control of his second match point by forcing Djokovic out wide to lunge for a forehand, which landed in the net.
2009 Internazionali BNL d'Italia final, Rome, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 76(2) 62
Two weeks on from their keenly contested match in the final of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, Nadal and Djokovic met in an ATP World Tour final for the fourth time at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome. Nadal served for the first set twice, but each time was thwarted by a Djokovic determined to defend his title at the Foro Italico. The Spaniard raised his level in the first-set tie-break though before breaking twice in the second set to secure his 30th consecutive clay-court victory and a record fourth Internazionali BNL d'Italia title after two hours and three minutes of play. Nadal’s victory had added significance for Djokovic, who will surrender his No. 3 South African Airways 2009 ATP Ranking to current No. 4 Andy Murray when the 2008 Rome points drop on 11 May.
2009 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters final, Monte-Carlo, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 63 26 61
In their third meeting in an ATP World Tour final, Nadal prevailed over Djokovic 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 to clinch his fifth straight title at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. Nadal reeled off five straight games to take the opening set in 63 minutes, but dropped his first set in Monte-Carlo since the 2006 final after Djokovic went up two early breaks in the following set. In a key first game of the third set, Nadal recovered from a 0-30 deficit and saved three break points – completing a 16-minute opening game with a forehand crosscourt winner – and then claimed a 2-0 lead in the next game when a Djokovic forehand hit the net tape and landed wide. Djokovic reclaimed a break of serve to make it 2-1, but Nadal flexed his muscles and won four straight games – dropping just three points – to wrap up victory in two hours and 44 minutes.
2009 Davis Cup World Group first round, Benidorm, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 64 64 61
In their first meeting in Davis Cup competition, the Spaniard prevailed in straight sets in Benidorm to clinch the first round victory for the defending Davis Cup champions. Nadal improved to 12-1 lifetime in Davis Cup singles play, including a 10-0 mark on clay. The Spaniard has won 15 of 16 sets on clay against the Serb.
2008 Olympic Games Beijing semi-finals, hard, Nadal d. Djokovic 64 16 64
Three days before Rafael Nadal became the 24th player to rank No. 1 in the history of the South African Airways ATP Rankings, the Spaniard sealed his 69th win of the year after defeating Novak Djokovic 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 in two hours and 10 minutes at the Olympic Green Tennis Center. The match finished at 12:22 a.m. local time. Djokovic saved one match point on serve at 30/40, 4-5 in the deciding set with a powerful forehand. But Nadal was not to be denied, as a couple of minutes later Djokovic missed a smash at the net on Nadal's second match point. Nadal hit 13 winners and committed 46 unforced errors in total, compared to 18 winners and 52 unforced errors for Djokovic. Nadal went on to clinch the gold medal over Fernando Gonzalez, while Djokovic won the bronze medal over James Blake.
2008 Western & Southern Financial Group Masters semi-final, Cincinnati, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 61 75
Novak Djokovic ended Rafael Nadal's 32-match winning streak with a 6-1, 7-5 semifinal victory in one hour and 25 minutes. The loss meant Nadal would officially become the No. 1 for the first time in the South African Airways ATP Rankings on August 18. Djokovic jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the opening set before closing it out in 26 minutes. The Serbian hit 11 winners to Nadal's two and won 16 of 20 points on his own serve in the first set. In the second set, Nadal's only break point came in the sixth game but Djokovic saved it. He broke Nadal in the 11th game at 15/40 and then served out the match, hitting a forehand volley winner on match point. It was Nadal's first loss in nearly three months since he fell to countryman Juan Carlos Ferrero in the opening round of ATP Masters Series Rome on May 7.
2008 The Artois Championships final, Queen's Club London, grass, Nadal d. Djokovic 76(6) 75
In front of a packed Centre Court crowd at The Queen’s Club in west London, four-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic 7-6(6), 7-5 in a thrilling final of the highest quality, a fitting way to celebrate 30 years of the event. Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Gloucester presented the Spaniard with his fifth trophy of the season and his third in succession following wins in Hamburg and Roland Garros. With the win, Nadal became the first reigning French Open champion to win at The Queen’s Club since Ilie Nastase in 1973 and the first Spaniard to win here since Andres Gimeno in 1960. He was also the first Spaniard to win a grass court title since Gimeno won in Eastbourne in 1972.
2008 Roland Garros semi-final, Paris, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 64 62 76(3)
Three-time defending champion Rafael Nadal tightened his grip on the No. 2 spot in the South African Airways ATP Rankings by extending his Roland Garros record to 27-0 with a 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(3) win over No. 3-ranked Novak Djokovic in two hours and 49 minutes. Nadal became the first man since Ivan Lendl from 1984-1987 to reach four consecutive finals, and just the third man in the Open Era to do so. Djokovic was unable to generate any break points on Nadal’s serve throughout the first set and, with his attacking play nullified by great defense from Nadal, he went on to lose the first set 6-4 after 57 minutes. The Spaniard closed out the set 6-2 with a forehand winner after 91 minutes, and put the match out of Djokovic’s reach by going up a double break in the third set. Djokovic fought back and had a chance to win his first set against the Spaniard at Roland Garros when he earned a set point after an effective return in the 12th game. However, Nadal denied him and went on to take the match on the tie-break.