Nadal Stifles Djokovic Comeback to Win Monte Carlo

by John on April 19, 2009

The Clay Master is back. Playing his first clay-court tournament since the French Open last June, Rafael Nadal won his fifth straight Monte Carlo Masters title today, defeating Novak Djokovic 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 in a seesaw final that lasted two hours and 44 minutes. The No. 1-ranked Spaniard improved to 23-1 in clay-court finals while winning his third title of the year and 34th of his career. “A fifth victory here is a dream coming true,” said Nadal. “See you next year.” Nadal trailed 3-1 in the first set before taking the next five games. No. 3 Djokovic dominated the second set, winning all nine points at the net, and looked poised to possibly stage an upset with momentum on his side. Nadal, struggling on his serve, saved three break points and needed 14 minutes before holding in the first game of the third set. After a long rally at 30-40, Djokovic seemed certain to break Nadal with a drop shot, but somehow the Spaniard got it back for a winner. With Djokovic finding his range with huge shots, he forced another chance that Nadal saved with a strong first serve. Another big forehand winner offered up a third break point, but the Serb squandered the opportunity when his return landed barely out. “It was just unfortunate to miss some opportunities in the start of the third set, because if I was break up, then things would probably look different,” said Djokovic. Rafa broke immediately to take a 2-0 lead, but was still struggling on his serve and was broken in the third game to let Djokovic back into the match. Djokovic couldn’t consolidate the break, though, and lost the last four games while going for too much on his ground strokes. “I played a very good match, actually one of the best I’ve played against him on this surface,” Djokovic said. “It’s really unfortunate that in certain moments I didn’t play the way I was supposed to play, with a little bit more patience.” Nadal improved to 12-4 overall against Djokovic and 7-0 on clay.

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