Novak & Rafa: The Rivalry, Matches 31-40
A recap of every match between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal...
2014 Sony Open Tennis final, Miami, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 63 63
There were milestones on the line for both players when they came together in their 40th meeting. Djokovic was looking to win the Indian Wells-Miami double for the second time (also 2011) and Nadal was hoping to get his hands on the Miami crown that had thus far eluded him in three previous finals.
Djokovic had won his past two contests with Nadal, since losing the US Open final, and, after saving a break point in the first game, produced a devastating display that the Spaniard had no answer to. As he raced to victory at Crandon Park for the fourth time, Djokovic broke Nadal three times, wrapping up the match in 84 minutes. Nadal was unable to make inroads in his counterpart’s serve in the second set, winning just four of 21 return points. He uncharacteristically hit 11 forehand unforced errors in the match, while Djokovic fired 22 total winners, including five off the backhand wing.
2013 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals final, London, hard indoors, Djokovic d. Nadal 63 64
Undefeated in 21 matches since his loss to Nadal in the US Open final, Djokovic pierced Nadal’s defences early on in his third season-ending final, breaking to 15 in the second game. Nadal battled to keep the set competitive, recovering the break, but a double fault at 3-4, 30/30, put him back in trouble with Djokovic smothering the net to break serve.
Djokovic tightened his grip on the match when he broke Nadal in the third game of the second set. He created his first match point opportunity in the ninth game, when Nadal lunged too far for a backhand down the line. The Spaniard saved it at 30/40. Despite falling from 30/0 to 30/30, the World No. 2 held his nerve and clinched his third match point chance when Nadal hit a forehand wide.
2013 China Open final, Beijing, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 63 64
Following a pair of hard court defeats to Nadal during the summer, an inspired Djokovic exacted revenge in straight sets and without facing a break point. The Serb stretched his undefeated mark at the China Open to 19-0 with the win, capturing his fourth title in Beijing and snapping Nadal's perfect hard court winning streak in 2013 at 26 straight matches.
Djokovic was dominant on serve, winning 90 per cent of first serve points and holding Nadal to just six return points won. He broke the Spaniard in his first service game and never looked back, breaking again early in the second set and closing out the match in 87 minutes. The victory came a day after Djokovic relinquished the No. 1 Emirates ATP Ranking to Nadal. It was the Belgrade native's fourth tour-level crown of the season and first since dethroning Nadal for the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters title in April. The loss was only Nadal's fourth of the year as the Mallorca native was playing in his 13th final in 14 tournaments on the ATP World Tour in 2013.
2013 US Open final, Grand Slam, New York City, hard, Nadal d. Djokovic 62 36 64 61
In their third US Open final meeting (also 2010-11) and an Open Era record 37th meeting, Nadal exerted the early pressure, but it was Djokovic who turned the tables in the sixth game of the second set. The intensity rose early in the third set, as Djokovic broke Nadal in the third game only for Nadal to bounce back for 3-3 and ultimately break once again. Nadal stretched his lead to 3-0 in the fourth set and by the time he celebrated his 13th major crown, Djokovic had committed 53 unforced errors. Spaniard dominated the extended rallies of five shots or more, winning 64 of 111 such points. The World No. 2 was lethal in the return game as well, converting on seven of 12 break point chances. Queen Sofia of Spain congratulated Nadal in the locker room after winning his second US Open crown.
2013 Coupe Rogers semi-final, Montreal, hard, Nadal d. Djokovic 64 36 76(2)
With both players locked in a months-long fight for the year-end No. 1 Emirates ATP Ranking, the Coupe Rogers semi-final in August between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal took on added significance. Nadal entered with an eight-match hard-court winning streak, while Djokovic played what he called “as close to perfection as you can be” in a quarter-final rout of Richard Gasquet the day before. It would be their 36th overall meeting, which tied Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe for the most in the Open Era. The match began with an immediate break of serve by Nadal, who capitalised on a few ill-timed Djokovic double faults to race out to the early lead. Djokovic’s forehand was uncharacteristically misfiring in the early stages and Nadal took full advantage.
The Serb would fight back, however, leveling the match at a set apiece with a late break, reeling off five straight points from 40/0 down. The match would come down to a deciding tie-break, with Nadal quickly opening a 6-0 lead and converting on his third match point. The Spaniard would advance to his 36th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final, in which he would chase his fourth such title of the year. He hoisted the trophy in Indian Wells, Madrid and Rome. The loss snapped Djokovic’s streak of 13 consecutive match victories at the Coupe Rogers, having won the previous two titles there.
2013 Roland Garros semi-final, Paris, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 64 36 61 67(3) 97
Both players were competing for a shot at history. Djokovic was attempting to have a shot at winning his first Roland Garros crown, which would make him the eighth man in tennis history to complete the career Grand Slam. Nadal was going for an eighth title in Paris. Djokovic had dealt Nadal a harsh defeat in their previous meeting at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, where he ended the Spaniard’s 46-match winning streak at the event. Did it weigh on Nadal’s mind? The Spaniard was two points from victory when he led 6-5, 30/15 in the fourth set, but he tightened up and Djokovic fought back into contention. Nadal then came back from a 2-4 deficit in the drama-filled fifth set, which lasted 87 minutes, to give the match an enthralling finish. The semi-final last four hours and 37 minutes and kept alive Nadal’s 21-match winning streak. It was only the second five-set match Nadal had played at the major, with the first being a first-round win over John Isner in 2011.
2013 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters final, Monte-Carlo, clay, Djokovic d. Nadal 62 76(1)
Djokovic didn’t think he would compete at the tournament due to a foot injury. By the time he reached the final for the third time (also 2009, 2012), the World No. 1 was firing on all cylinders. Nadal, the eight-time defending champion, who was on a 46-match winning streak at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, had been equally as impressive. Their 34th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting had all the ingredients of a classic. Djokovic raced into a 5-0 lead, dropping just 12 points. When he converted his eighth set point to clinch the 48-minute opener, the crowd started to wonder if Nadal’s reign was about to end. In a high-quality second set, which included fourth breaks of serve, both players showed great mental strength. But it was Djokovic who remained cool in the tie-break to win his 14 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title and 37th trophy overall. The one-hour and 52-minte victory also meant that Djokovic has become the first player to beat Nadal three times in a clay-court final. He also ended Nadal’s 81-match winning streak on clay in the month of April. His last loss on clay in April had come on 8 April 2005 to Igor Andreev in the Valencia quarter-finals.
2012 Roland Garros final, Paris, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 64 63 26 75
The two were meeting for the fourth time at Roland Garros, with Nadal taking their previous three Paris clashes in straight sets. Djokovic was appearing in the final for the first time. In a final that was played over two days due to several rain delays, Nadal hit 34 winners to 29 unforced errors, and led two sets and a break before the Serbian rallied to win eight consecutive games en route to clinching his first set over Nadal at the tournament. He took a 2-1 break lead before play was suspended for the day on 10 June. When played resumed on Monday, Nadal broke back to level at 2-all and went on to wrap up the final victory in three hours and 49 minutes after Djokovic hit his fourth double fault to end the match. Djokovic was looking to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four Grand Slam championship titles. Nadal improved to 3-0 against Djokovic on clay in 2012.
2012 Internazionali BNL d'Italia final, Rome, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 75 63
The pair contested the final at the Foro Italico for the third time, with Nadal coming out on top to avenge the defeat he had suffered at Djokovic’s hands a year earlier. With the final rained off on Sunday, it was below brighter skies on Monday that the pair took to court. Djokovic was under immediate pressure from Nadal. The Serb, who had beaten Roger Federer in the semi-finals, saved two break points in his opening service game before Nadal converted his fourth opportunity to lead 3-2. Djokovic immediately recovered the service break, but was broken by Nadal again in the 11th game, after a scintillating exchange at the net, and the Spaniard sealed the opener. Nadal was quick to capitalise on his momentum, taking advantage of an increased unforced error count by Djokovic and dominating from the baseline as he broke in the first game of the second set. Djokovic squandered four break back points in the following game, and another in the fourth game, before surrendering the match in the ninth game after two hours and 20 minutes with his fourth double fault.
2012 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters final, Monte-Carlo, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 63 61
Second-ranked Rafael Nadal ended a seven-match losing streak to World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, dropping just four games to win his eighth straight title in Monte-Carlo. The Spaniard converted five breaks and won 85 per cent of his first serve points to seal the final victory in 79 minutes. He did not drop a set during the tournament.