Nadal Wears Down Djokovic to Win Ninth French Open Title

by John on June 8, 2014

Rafa Nadal RG14

Rafael Nadal won his record-extending ninth French Open title Sunday afternoon, defeating a game Novak Djokovic 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 in a contest more akin to a heavyweight title bout than a tennis match. As the match progressed it appeared whoever could deliver the most body blows would ultimately be the winner. In the end it was Nadal, but both players were staggering and stumbling after the three hours and 31 minutes of punishing tennis. Nadal improved to 66-1 in Paris, while winning his fifth straight French title. The only blemish on his record at Roland Garros is a fourth-round loss to Robin Soderling in 2009. By winning his 14th Grand Slam title, Nadal tied Pete Sampras for second on the all-time list, trailing only Roger Federer with 17. Using his backhand to great effect against Nadal’s forehand in the early going, Djokovic took the opening set with a break in the eighth game, and got to 5-all in the second. That’s when the momentum changed. Perhaps sensing that a two-set deficit might be too much for even him to overcome, Nadal won 20 of the next 26 points to take the second set and a 3-0 lead in the third. Djokovic was struggling now, his face flushed and energy level low. With impenetrable defense and his ruthless forehand hitting the lines, Nadal poured it on. He broke again in the eighth game to capture the set. In the fourth set it was Nadal who seemed to be physically the worse for wear. After breaking to go up 4-2, the Spaniard’s back appeared to be causing him problems and he dropped serve in the next game. Two games later, serving at 4-4, the weary Nadal stumbled celebrating a point, but somehow managed to hold serve. Looking to stay in the match and force a fifth set, Djokovic went up 30-0 on his serve, but lost four straight points, including a double fault on match point. Nadal hit the terre battue and it was over. Twice now Djokovic has lost a French final to Nadal. The other was in 2012. “It was very important for me to win that second set,” Nadal said. “Without that second set, I don’t know if I would have this trophy with me now.” Statistically, the match was fairly even, but there were two significant exceptions. Nadal won 50 percent of the points on his second serve, Djokovic 37 percent. And the Spaniard committed 11 fewer unforced error, 38 to 49. “It’s not impossible, but it’s very, very difficult to stay with Rafa in this court, throughout the whole match, on the highest level of performance,” Djokovic said. “It’s normal that you have ups and downs. I played at the maximum of my power, my strength, and my capability, but Rafa was the best player on the court.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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