by NAOMI DOSHI Staff Writer
In the 40th match they have ever against played each other, Novak Djokovic won the Men’s Singles Final against Rafael Nadal at the Miami Sony Open Tennis on Sunday, March 30, winning each of the first two sets 6-3.
Nadal is still World Number One in men’s singles tennis and Djokovic is still World Number Two, but Djokovic is catching up.
Djokovic was the widely predicted champion for the game, having previously won three titles in Miami while Nadal had not won any. His first big title win was in Miami in 2007, and by now, Djokovic is known for his excellent performance on hard courts.
Nadal, however, was more successful overall versus Djokovic in their last 39 meetings. Nadal has won 22 while Djokovic has won 17.
At this point, Djokovic’s total ATP Masters 1000 titles count is 18 while Nadal remains at the top with 26.
After the match, Djokovic said, “I played great backhand cross courts, which I think is the play that won me the match.”
Djokovic also kept control of the court with his great serves. His most important would be his excellent volleys and quick footwork
Djokovic said, “I stepped into the court. I had a good variety… high percentage of very good serves… so I had three points on the first serve, which is very important when playing Rafa.”
In the fifth game of the first set, Djokovic used a combination of volleys and backhand slices to force Nadal to hit the ball into the doubles alley. In the second set, Djokovic won the first game by moving up to the net to hit multiple volleys.
“Djokovic definitely won… he was up at the net for most of the game. He hit really good volleys, and when Nadal returned them, he hit them too far,” said freshman Anurva Saste.
Nadal’s greatest weakness was undoubtedly his slow forehands. He did not take risks until the second set, and at that point, he could not gain control of the court. He was too late to the ball when Djokovic returned it to the forehand side.
“I think Nadal could have won with a better forehand. He was leaving that side of the court open, or he was getting to the ball too late so that every time Djokovic hit there, Nadal lost the point,” said freshman Natasha Reddy.
Nadal played his best during the second set. He was able to maneuver the ball with a great forehand and used brutal force several times. He tried to back Djokovic into the forehand corner, but Djokovic amazingly recovered and won the point.
The last set of the match ended in a rally. Both players were up at net and continuously hit volleys on either side. Djokovic eventually caught Nadal off-guard with a forehand volley, and collapsed on the ground with success.
It was definitely a bad day for Nadal. Djokovic played very well, and Nadal was no match for him.
Before accepting his finalist trophy, Nadal said that he does not think he has lost this many finals in any tournament. He made it to the Sony Open finals a total of four times, but never won.
Djokovic and Nadal were well rested for the finals, and neither had played an official match for at least two days. Both of their opponents in the semifinals pulled out due to injury or illness, resulting in two walkovers.
It has been 10 years since Nadal and Djokovic first faced each other and started what is now regarded as the greatest rivalry in the history of tennis. At this point, both are debatably equally-matched. Nadal was undefeatable in the first few years of their rivalry, but it is obvious that Djokovic has recently turned the tables.
Both players will participate in Monte Carlo on the clay courts. Nadal is known as the “King of Clay”, but Djokovic has been playing his best in the past few weeks.
Djokovic said that he would use similar tactics on the clay courts, but that he would have to play his very best to have a chance of defeating Nadal.
“I have to be aggressive. I have to take it to [Nadal]. I have to step in and play my game,” Djokovic said.
What do you think is the best part of Djokovic’s technique?