ATP WORLD TOUR SEASON REVIEW
Rivalries Of 2013: Nadal vs. Djokovic
Best Of 2013
by James Buddell|
The two outstanding players of the 2013 ATP World Tour season, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, met on six occasions, splitting their clashes at three apiece. Nadal leads Djokovic 22-17 overall in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, a record number of meetings between two players in the Open Era.
When Nadal had gotten the better of Djokovic in the 2012 Roland Garros final, the tennis world did not know that it would be a further 10 months until their next clash – mainly due to the fact that the Spaniard endured a seven-month lay-off due to a left knee injury.
Two months into his comeback, Nadal faced Djokovic in the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters final on 21 April. As the eight-time defending champion, Nadal had a 46-match winning streak. Djokovic became the first player to defeat Nadal in three clay-court finals with a 6-2, 7-6(1) win. Nadal confessed, "It is not a tragedy. I lost after eight years without losing here. Today, he was better than me." Djokovic expressed his relief, by saying, "I wanted the trophy badly all my life, especially in the last six, seven years that I've been spending my time and living here between the tournaments in Monaco."
By the time they met in the Roland Garros semi-finals on 7 June, both players were at the height of their powers. It was one of the greatest matches of their rivalry. Nadal was two points from victory when he led 6-5, 30/15 in the fourth set, but he tightened up and once Djokovic led 4-2 in a drama-filled fifth set the two contested an enthralling finish. Nadal eventually triumphed 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7(3), 9-7 and afterwards insisted, "These kind of matches are very special. You don’t get to have the chance to play these kind of matches every day." Djokovic told reporters, "Hopefully I can use this next period that is coming up to recover, mentally get motivated and get inspired again to play my best tennis."
Nadal overcame his Wimbledon first round exit by tearing through the North American hard-court swing, compiling a 16-0 record. He beat Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2) in the Coupe Rogers semi-finals and captured a second US Open crown with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory on 10 September. "It is much more than what I ever thought, what I ever dreamed," said Nadal, who now has 13 Grand Slam trophies. "Thirteen is an amazing number." Nadal had a 3,000 point lead over Djokovic in the Emirates ATP Race To London, but the Serbian remained positive. "I'm still No. 1 in the world, but he has more chances to end up [at year's end] as No. 1. There are still tournaments to go. So we'll see."Watch Nadal Hot Shot vs. Djokovic in China Open final
Djokovic kept fighting. On 6 October, the day before he relinquished No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings to Nadal, Djokovic beat his fiercest rival 6-3, 6-4 to lift his fourth China Open trophy. "I needed this win today," said Djokovic. "It's very important for my confidence. It's very important mentally and emotionally for me." Nadal admitted, "I didn't see a way to stop him this afternoon."
It was fitting that both players should square off for the title at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, the final event of the 2013 ATP World Tour season, at The O2 in London on 11 November. Though Nadal had already secured the year-end No. 1 for a third time (also 2008 and 2010) five days earlier, Djokovic proved he will continue to be a threat in 2014 after he recorded a 6-3, 6-4 win in the fifth No. 1 versus No. 2 final in the 44-year history of the prestigious season-ending championship. It was Djokovic's 22nd straight match win.
When asked about their rivalry, Djokovic said, "We push each other to the limit [and] we make each other better. We make each other work harder on our games, especially when we play against each other. It's always a huge challenge." Djokovic now leads Nadal 10-9 in title matches.
Nadal vs. Djokovic: 2013 Meetings
|Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters Final||Djokovic||62 76(1)|
|Roland Garros SF||Nadal||64 36 61 67(3) 97|
|Coupe Rogers SF||Nadal||64 36 76(2)|
|US Open Final||Nadal||62 36 64 61|
|China Open Final||Djokovic||63 64|
|Barclays ATP World Tour Finals Final||Djokovic||63 64|