Novak Djokovic capped a masterful month of tennis by hammering his rival Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-3 today in the final at the Tennis Masters Miami.
The title follows the Indian Wells crown Djokovic took just two weeks ago over Roger Federer. And it’s his fourth straight at the Masters level.
He’s a master and today he mastered No. 1.
“It’s been a fantastic tournament, a very enjoyable time as it always is in Miami,” said Djokovic. “I played a great match, from the start to the end everything was working really well. It’s always a challenge and a pleasure to play against Rafa. Back in 2007 I won my first big title here in Miami and I have the greatest memories from this centre court.
“The matches that I played, I really did well. And I improved my game as the tournament progressed. The best performance of the tournament came at the right moment.”
Djokovic began the day by saving a break point in the opening game and really was never troubled again on his serve. He broke Nadal early in the first and again to start the second, and it was curtains for Rafa who finishes second for a fourth time in Miami.
Djokovic began the month at Indian Wells, trying to find his game, find his form. But after losing that first set in the Indian Wells final against Roger Federer, Djokovic has been on song. In fact he’s won his last 10 sets beat Federer, Andy Murray and today Nadal.
As for the match, I thought Djokovic played nearly perfect tennis. Serving well, getting depth on his shots, adding in some timely net approaches and really cracking that backhand, something you have to do well if you are going to beat Nadal.
“Rafa is the kind of player that if you allow him or give him a chance, he’s going to capitalize on it, he’s going to take that chance he’s going to come back in that match, and you’re going to lose,” Djokovic said. “And I didn’t want to lose that advantage and I kept pressing him until the end.”
Rafa didn’t play his best. But part of that was his opponent.
Rafa still leads Novak 22-18 but Djokovic now is ahead 14-7 on hardcourts and he’s taken the last three winning six straight sets! So right now he’s got the momentum, but the dirt is coming.
“Novak was better than me,” Nadal said. “It’s very easy to analyze.”
Also to note, coincidence or not, Boris Becker wasn’t on this March trip. The Serb is quick to defend his new coach but in his absence Djokovic has won 34 straight matches since the US Open. As I say, it’s hard to argue with success.
For Djokovic, this win, this month, should get him back in to form and in position to make another run at Nadal in Paris in two months. If the French were to start tomorrow, I’d pick Djokovic. And as I said yesterday, the winner of this match would determine the 2014 No. 1 player. I’ll stand by that.
For Nadal, he played some good tennis in Miami but a disappointing end. That said, no one is happier than him the clay is here.
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