Novak stops Mr Invincible in Madrid
Originally published on: 07/09/11 12:52
Simply majestic in Madrid, Novak Djokovic well and truly pulled the rabbit out of the hat in the Magic Box, achieving the seemingly impossible by beating Rafael Nadal in straight sets on his favourite surface.
A “fantastic” victory at the Mutua Madrid Open saw the Serb extend his winning streak to 32 matches and end Nadal’s 37-match unbeaten run on clay.
“Under the circumstances, I’ve played probably the best match of my life on clay against the world No.1 and the player to beat on this surface,” said Djokovic. “The way I played was just fantastic.”
And it was. Djokovic had failed to beat Nadal in any of their nine previous meetings on the dirt, but set about bossing the King of Clay from the outset. Though twice-broken back after flying into a 4-0 first set lead, the Belgrade native maintained his focus to bag the opening set with a third break in the 12th game.
The world No.1 responded as a world No.1 should – but in scarcely believable fashion – scoring an immediate break with a stunning through-the-legs lobbed winner – magical enough to have come from Fabrice Santoro’s repertoire of trickery. But despite wowing the partisan home crowd, the Spaniard was unable to deny the Serb an immediate break-back. Artful in his point construction, deadly on the backhand side and supremely confident on crunch points, Djokovic dented Nadal’s serve again in the 10th game to seal a remarkably assured triumph in two hours and 18 minutes.
“He’s playing at a really high level. We’ve got to accept that,” admitted Nadal, and in ever-humble fashion added: “When someone is better than you there is nothing you can do other than congratulate him.”