Five in a row for Nadal
Originally published on: 26/02/10 12:26
The world number one looked in trouble at the start of the third set but dug deep under pressure before eventually coasting to victory.
Djokovic has a good record on clay, reaching the semi-finals at least in every event he played last season and taking the title in Rome, but Nadal proved just why he is the king of clay responding to a rare dropped set to romp to victory.
The Serbian, who had never beaten Nadal in six previous meetings on clay, began well, securing the first break of serve in the opening set, but the Spaniard’s battling powers are legendary and he quickly responded before going on to take the set.
The third seed responded impressively at the start of the second set, breaking Nadal’s serve in the opening game after a brilliant rally, which he celebrated with a huge roar.
The defending champion had a chance to break back in the fourth game but Djokovic held firm and then went further ahead by capturing Nadal’s serve again to make it 5-1. He duly served out to level things up, firing down a fourth ace on set point.
Djokovic went into the decider with his tail up and had Nadal in all sorts of trouble in the opening game but could not force the break – one incredible pass saving the top seed.
Almost inevitably Nadal then took his first break point in the second game when a Djokovic shot hit the top of the net and bounced long.
Djokovic had his chances in the third game, too, the 21-year-old showing admirable belief when it appeared the match could slip away from him, and he was rewarded with a break at last.
However, all his hard work was undone in the next game as a series of unforced errors gave Nadal a 3-1 lead. The Spaniard looked every inch a five-time champion as he served out the first love game of the match and Djokovic’s challenge was extinguished when he was broken again before Nadal comfortably clinched victory.