Congrats to Novak Djokovic and his fans. Earlier today the Serb dethroned Rafael Nadal 62, 76 to win his first Rolex Masters 1000 title in Monte Carlo. Djokovic, who was iffy to play his home Monte Carlo event, made the most of the week winning the last three matches in straight sets, culminating with his impressive win this afternoon.
“I’m very thrilled,” Djokovic said moments afterward. “I am full of joy at this moment. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the clay court season. I beat the best player ever in the history of this sport on clay and we all know how good his record is in Monte Carlo eight titles in a row and he let me win once, I’m just so happy.”
Djokovic said he did really well when he needed to and he did just that today in breaking Nadal’s stranglehold on the even played in the city where he lives. Djokovic is the first player to beat Nadal three times in a claycourt final. He also ended Nadal’s 81-match winning streak on clay in the month of April, a streak that goes back to April 8, 2005 when Rafa lost to Igor Andreev in the Valencia quarters.
After winning his 14th Masters 1000 title (37th overall, 3rd this year), Novak will have two weeks off to rest and recover before Madrid. And he won’t have to go far to rest. He lives in Monte Carlo!
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) April 21, 2013
Here’s on-court interview after the win:
The post-match ceremony:
His post-match presser:
Q. If you take out Grand Slams, this must rank pretty highly among the other tournaments you would have won, I would have thought?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Absolutely, because of the significance that this tournament presents to me. I live here, as I was saying before, spend a lot of time in this club. I mean, for me, the most beautiful club in the world because I love the view, I love the people.
Wimbledon is right up there (smiling).
So I enjoy it. I cannot be happier than I am in this moment knowing what I’ve been through the whole week, actually two weeks, right after Davis Cup, trying to recover and make a decision to play or not to play.
If somebody told me 10 days ago I’d be winning the trophy, I wouldn’t think it’s so realistic, to be honest. But, you know, I went through pain, I went through a big challenge, mentally, physically, emotionally, and in the end it was getting better as the tournament was going on.
I knew after yesterday’s match that I had a feeling that I had a big chance to win against Rafa if I was on the top of my game. The first six, seven games, eight games, were unbelievable. It’s the best that I can play on clay. Well, it’s the only way you can win against Rafa.
Q. Having started so well, obviously had the momentum from the outset, how difficult is it to sustain that kind of level against someone like that when you know at some stage he’s bound to start to play?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: From winning the first set, after that was a mental game, you know, trying to maintain that extremely high level, not many unforced errors, a lot of winners. Everything was going the right way for me.
Again, I knew in the back of my mind that even though I was wishing for no flaws, that it’s going to happen here and there. It usually does when you play on clay against Rafa, best player ever on this surface. And it happened the beginning of the second. He increased his level. I thought he elevated his game.
And for me, when I was a break down, it was important just mentally to stay out there, believe that I can come back, believe I can win. In the most important moments, I managed to make some great shots from the baseline, managed to step into the court, take my chances. I didn’t allow him to really control, dictate the tempo of the match.
So when I was 6 5 down, I think out of next 10, 15 points, I lost only one. So that’s an unbelievable effort at that stage.
Q. After 25 minutes, 5 Love up against Nadal on clay, you said yesterday about a positive mindset, what was it you told yourself to do before this match?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, look, you know, in the end the will to prepare can make a winner in these kind of matches and challenges. I’ve been in these kind of situations before. I played twice in the finals here against Nadal. I lost both times, but close matches.
I knew that I’m going to need to be on top of my game. I’ve done everything in my power in order to prepare best that I can emotionally, physically, mentally.
My team was there supporting me, behind me. Weather conditions I cannot affect, but I can affect my mental preparation.
As I was saying on the press conference, post match press conference after Fognini yesterday, I want to win. There’s nothing wrong about that. There’s no doubt that this kind of mindset I will be having before the match.
So I think the preparation was fantastic. The way I felt going back again what I said before the way I felt yesterday after the match gave me the right indication that I’m ready, that this is the right time.
Q. Also in the second set when he broke you, did you have the sensation that the match depended on you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, look, analyzing the game and the matches that I had against him in the past on different surfaces, I know if I can play on that level for long period of time, I have a very good chance of winning. I knew that.
I dropped a little bit my level in the second set in points, and he used it. That’s why he’s been so successful on this surface. It was a high mountain to climb for me, and I knew that. It was the biggest challenge that you can have on clay. But I managed to overcome it. I was ready to accept that challenge.
As I said, I stepped into the court when I needed to.
Q. Knowing that only three players have won 6 Love set versus Nadal on clay in their life, when you beat Nadal who won eight times this tournament, is like to beat Federer in Wimbledon, same sort of level? Have you ever played a game like you played when you were down 6 5, those four winners, to win a love game?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I’ve played in the past this well against Rafa on clay. Madrid, Rome 2011. It brought back the memories. I was trying to go back to years and remember what I’ve done on the court. So those matches, wins helped even in preparation for today’s challenge.
Regarding the comparison, Federer/Nadal, grass/clay, I don’t know really. I never won against Federer on grass. But this is definitely right up there, one of the biggest wins. I’ve played one of my best tennis on clay courts ever.
Q. You looked very emotional after the match point. Can you share what you were thinking and what this win could mean for the weeks to come?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think anybody who saw my expression in the end saw that it was a very emotional win for the reasons I gave you already, living here, what I’ve been through in the last two weeks. It’s a very joyful moment for me. I wanted that trophy badly all my life, especially in last six, seven years that I’ve been spending my time and living here between the tournaments in Monaco.
This is a great confidence boost before the rest of the clay court season, definitely.
Q. Can we say this is a symbolic victory for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: For the reasons, yes, I gave you already. It’s definitely very special because I live here.
Q. What makes you to take this decision? You said this is the best decision you ever took.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it’s not just me. It’s the medical team that I have, the whole team that was with me, also the medical team of the tournament, that supported me in the decision making, actually gave me the green light to be a part of the tournament because there was no risk, no big risk, of damaging my ankle furthermore. So that was the reason.
Q. This is one trophy you’ve wanted for a very long time. The other one which you want probably more than any other would be the French Open. I guess the two could be connected.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, yeah, this trophy could not come in a better moment for me. It was kind of difficult last two months for me. Been through some ups and downs emotionally, physically.
But I’m right in the place where I want to be this moment confidence wise, game wise. I just need to do what I have done always: stay committed, to rest well, prepare well, and then I have the next two weeks for those things, getting ready for next challenge.
Of course, I want to win Roland Garros. That’s no secret. But I need to keep on having the right positive mindset for the next tournaments that are also very important. Just trying to stay healthy.
Q. A lot of the game is the mental side of the game. Players before they play Nadal say, I have nothing to lose. You don’t have that attitude. You say you want to win. If you approach him with that steely mentality, do you think it may intimidate him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: We played so many times. It’s true that in the end it’s very mental on the highest possible level when you’re playing for trophies, big tournaments. Physically you’re ready, you’re getting ready, your game is there. Mentally, emotionally if you manage to cope with pressure in those tough moments, tough moments, manage to play your best, you have a better chance of winning.
I’m filled with joy when I play this sport. It’s a huge drive force for me to be able to perform my best always. Of course, that kind of focused winning mentality. I think I have enough success in my career that gives me enough reason to have that kind of particular mindset.
Q. I know every time you win a trophy or you lose a trophy you’re very polite with Rafa. But winning this trophy and breaking the record of Rafa makes this win something a little bit more special.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, he allowed me to win it once, and I’m very thrilled for that. He won it eight times in a row, so he’s been saying how much he loves and enjoys this tournament.
On the other hand I do, too. It was a third lucky time for me. That’s why it’s very special because it’s the first time I won this trophy at my home basically.
Q. When you started the match, it seemed like you had a very good game plan, playing to his backhand. He tried to get your backhand, but you would run around and hit your forehand. Is that a game plan?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: There is a certain game plan there, of course, I tried to implement on the court. Very important for me because knowing that Rafa starts very strong from the first point, was to have the right intensity on the court, the right kind of focus. I’ve had it. As I said, first five games was a perfect, perfect play.
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