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Novak & Rafa: The Rivalry Page 2

Djokovic, Miami

2011 Sony Ericsson Open Final, ATP World Tour Masters 1000, Miami, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 46 63 76(4)
In one of the most electrifying men’s singles finals in Sony Ericsson Open history, Novak Djokovic defeated World No. 1 Rafael Nadal for the second consecutive ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event after winning at Indian Wells two weeks earlier, upending the Spaniard 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) to win his second Miami title. With the win, he improved to 24-0 on the season and increased his overall streak to 26 wins in a row, dating back to December’s Davis Cup Final. Djokovic became the first player since Roger Federer in 2006 to win both Indian Wells and Miami in the same year, a feat that’s been achieved eight times on the men’s side.

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Djokovic2011 BNP Paribas Open Final, ATP World Tour Masters 1000, Indian Wells, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 46 63 62
Novak Djokovic just cannot stop winning. The Serb extended his unbeaten run to 20 matches as he came from a set down to defeat World No. 1 Rafael Nadal 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in a gripping finale. The 23-year-old Djokovic has not lost a match since falling to Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals last November. “I don't think anybody is unbeatable. I do have the best period of my life on the tennis court, but nobody is invincible,” he said. “Still you are just trying to play your best in each match you're playing.” Victory marked Djokovic’s 21st tour-level title and his sixth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown. A day earlier, in a semi-final clash that also had the No. 2 South African Airways 2011 ATP Ranking on the line, Djokovic had defeated Federer, making him the third player to beat Nadal and Federer in the same tournament on two occasions, joining Nikolay Davydenko and David Nalbandian. He first defeated the duo in back-to-back matches at the 2007 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Montreal.

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Djokovic, Nadal2010 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals Round Robin, year-end ATP Championships, London, indoor hard, Nadal d. Djokovic 75 62
In a eagerly anticipated clash, Nadal overcame Djokovic for the second time in succession. The first set was closely fought, but Djokovic required treatment for an eye problem after the seventh game of the first set that spelled the end of his challenge in front of a 17,000-strong crowd. Just as in his opening group match against Andy Roddick, Nadal took time to find his rhythm but secured two breaks of serve to Djokovic's one break in the opening set. Djokovic, unable to hit top form in the second set, explained afterwards, "Playing with one eye, especially against Nadal, is not enough. It's just incredible that this happened to me because it never happened in my life. I was feeling great. But my right eye got irritated, and from 5-5 I could not play. I could not see a ball, especially the return." The match lasted one hour and 52 minutes.

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Djokovic, Nadal2010 US Open Final, Grand Slam, New York City, hard, Nadal d. Djokovic 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2
Nadal reversed a three-match losing streak against Djokovic, defeating the Serbian 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 to win his first US Open title and become the seventh man to complete the career Grand Slam. Though rain delayed their meeting by a day, Nadal made a confident start to the championship match Monday as he broke Djokovic. Though the Serbian drew level at 2-2, Nadal regained the lead as he converted on his sixth break point opportunity of the next game. The pair was locked at 4-4, 30/30, in the second set when rain suspended play for one hour and 57 minutes. When they returned, Djokovic broke the Spaniard for a third time to force a set off of Nadal for the first time during the 2010 US Open. Djokovic was unable to maintain the momentum, however, with Nadal continually putting pressure on his serve. The top seed created 16 break point chances through the final two sets and converted on three of them (6 for 26 during the match). He claimed the victory as his opponent’s return sailed wide on championship point after three hours and 43 minutes.

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Nadal Interview | Djokovic Interview

2009 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals Round Robin, year-end ATP Championships, London, indoor hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 76(5) 63
Djokovic denied Nadal his 400th tour-level match win (399-91 mark) by defeating the Spaniard 7-6(5), 6-3, but was unable to book a spot in the semi-finals after Nikolay Davydenko beat Robin Soderling in the final round-robin match of the elite eight-man tournament. The match got off to a scrappy start with three successive service breaks before Djokovic was able to carve out a 3-1 lead, saving a break point in the process. Nadal levelled in the eighth game and with the crowd urging him on he was able to force a tie-break. It was Djokovic who produced the better tennis in the first part of the tie-break, moving Nadal around with a drop shot-lob combination to earn a 6-2 lead. A brief lapse in concentration from the Serbian saw Nadal fight back to 6-5, but Djokovic was able to sneak over the line as a forehand error from Nadal – one of 35 unforced errors he committed in the match – handed him a one-set lead. Nadal required a medical timeout to receive treatment on his lower back early in the second set and Djokovic immediately pounced in the fourth game, taking advantage of errors from Nadal to lead 3-1. Djokovic went on to wrap up victory in one hour and 57 minutes.

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2009 BNP Paribas Masters Semi-finals, ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Paris, indoor hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 62 63
In-form Djokovic, a winner at the Davidoff Swiss Indoors Basel just six days previous, cruised into the final with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Nadal in 77 minutes. Djokovic broke serve to love in the sixth and eighth games of an entertaining 34-minute first set. Nadal won eight of 18 service points, including three aces, and 12 points overall. Djokovic opened up a 3-0 lead in the second set, courtesy of another service break to love in the second game. At 4-2, Djokovic recovered from 15/30 by winning three points in a row. Nadal kept fighting, but never looked likely to reach his first indoor final since February at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. "There's not much to say about today's performance, except it was perfect," said Djokovic, who hit 31 winners. "[It was] exactly the way I wanted it. I have done, tactically-wise, everything that I imagined to do and planned to do before the match. I was very aggressive. [I] took the early control of the match over my opponent, and it paid off. I was hitting winners from all over the court and really trying to keep that momentum going throughout the whole match. I didn't give him many chances to come back into the match."

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Djokovic2009 Western & Southern Financial Group Masters Semi-finals, ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Cincinnati, hard, Djokovic d. Nadal 61 64
Djokovic snapped a five-match losing streak against Nadal, repeating his 2008 semi-final win over the Spaniard in Cincinnati to charge into the final for the second consecutive year. He raced away with the first set in 29 minutes and then closed out the 6-1, 6-4 win in 91 minutes after facing just one break point in the match. Nadal, playing just his second tournament back since Roland Garros as he battled knee tendinitis, fought valiantly in the second set to make the match a contest. He staved off three break points in the opening game of the second set, forced Djokovic to save a break point at 4-3 and then also took Djokovic to deuce in the final game of the match before his young rival served out just his fifth win in 19 meetings with Nadal. "Obviously I have to be very pleased with the way I played," said Djokovic, who won 75 per cent of first-serves points. "This has been one of the best matches of the season so far. I was trying to be from the first point in the control of the match, be very aggressive, and take the chances on each shot or ball that I had. That's what I did."

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Nadal, Djokovic2009 Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open Semi-finals, ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Madrid, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 36 76(5) 76(9)
For the third time in five weeks the pair met. It was dramatic theatre and arguably their best match to date. Nadal saved three match points in a dramatic final-set tie-break to beat Djokovic 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(9) in four hours and two minutes for a spot in the final. It is believed to be the longest best-of-three sets match on the ATP World Tour in the Open Era (since 1968). It was the first time Nadal had played a third set tie-break on clay since 11 July 2003, when he lost to Nicolas Lapentti at Bastad, Sweden. Djokovic had the better of the opening exchanges and led Nadal 3-0 – courtesy of service break in the second game. The third seed managed to maintain his advantage, winning 20 of 26 service points to take the first set in 51 minutes. Djokovic’s fluency continued in the second set, but he was left to rue missed opportunities for service breaks in the third and ninth games. Nadal managed to fight off another break point in an 11-minute game for a 6-5 lead and went on to create his first break point opportunity, a set point, in the next game. Nadal maintained his record of never losing a tie-break against Djokovic to level the score line. Djokovic regained his composure to open up a 3-1 lead, after breaking Nadal in the fourth game. But Nadal responded with an immediate service break of his own. In the third-set tie-break Djokovic created his first match point when he hit a forehand winner for a 6-5 lead, but he could not capitalise on the chance as Nadal hit a forehand winner down the line from a long baseline rally. A second match point went begging on a Nadal second serve at 7-6, when Nadal wrong-footed Djokovic with a series of forehands before hitting the winning forehand stroke on approach to the net. Nadal’s first match point came and went at 8-7. Djokovic hit a nerveless forehand winner, having hit a second serve to Nadal’s forehand, for his third match point at 9-8 after four hours of play. Nadal gritted his teeth once again, and urged on by his compatriots was able to recover to 10-9 courtesy of a Djokovic forehand in the net and a forehand winner down the line. Nadal seized control of his second match point by forcing Djokovic out wide to lunge for a forehand, which landed in the net.

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Nadal2009 Internazionali BNL d'Italia Final, ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Rome, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 76(2) 62
Two weeks on from their keenly contested match in the final of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, Nadal and Djokovic met in an ATP World Tour final for the fourth time at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome. Nadal served for the first set twice, but each time was thwarted by a Djokovic determined to defend his title at the Foro Italico. The Spaniard raised his level in the first-set tie-break though before breaking twice in the second set to secure his 30th consecutive clay-court victory and a record fourth Internazionali BNL d'Italia title after two hours and three minutes of play. Nadal’s victory had added significance for Djokovic, who will surrender his No. 3 South African Airways 2009 ATP Ranking to current No. 4 Andy Murray when the 2008 Rome points drop on 11 May.

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Nadal2009 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters Final, ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte-Carlo, clay, Nadal d. Djokovic 63 26 61
In their third meeting in an ATP World Tour final, Nadal prevailed over Djokovic 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 to clinch his fifth straight title at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. Nadal reeled off five straight games to take the opening set in 63 minutes, but dropped his first set in Monte-Carlo since the 2006 final after Djokovic went up two early breaks in the following set. In a key first game of the third set, Nadal recovered from a 0-30 deficit and saved three break points – completing a 16-minute opening game with a forehand crosscourt winner – and then claimed a 2-0 lead in the next game when a Djokovic forehand hit the net tape and landed wide. Djokovic reclaimed a break of serve to make it 2-1, but Nadal flexed his muscles and won four straight games – dropping just three points – to wrap up victory in two hours and 44 minutes.

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