Djokovic Dominates Nadal For Fourth Miami Title And Third Straight Win Over The Spaniard
by Sean Randall | March 30th, 2014, 4:52 pm

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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101 Comments for Djokovic Dominates Nadal For Fourth Miami Title And Third Straight Win Over The Spaniard

James Says:

Djokovic clinical, Nadal sluggish, there was only going to be one outcome! After losing that first set to Fed in the Indian Wells final, something just clicked and he’s been on a hot streak ever since! He has the Monte-Carlo title to defend in a few weeks, but after that he can make up a lot of ground, with a maximum of 3,010 points to gain during May, so if all goes according to plan Djokovc could be world number 1 again by Wimbledon (of course Nadal is more than likely to reclaim the ranking with no points whatsoever to defend at the AELTC).

Continuing the clay court season talk, I really hope Murray finds some rhythm on the dirt this year, the past two seasons have been miserable for him as far as performance on clay goes, so if he makes a couple of quarterfinals and maybe a semifinal then he could be back in the top 5 by the time Queens and Wimbledon come around! Murray has the game to play well on clay, and I reckon it could be a psychological issue that’s prevented him from succeeding – he did after all train on the clay in Barcelona!

van orten Says:

again i ask you. what is your problem with boris becker ???

Dc Says:

Phenomenal play by Nole . Nadal played well too.
Nole has a good shot to the number 1 ranking this year.
Nadals level of play has clearly dipped this year – lets see if he is able to raise his level of play going forward .

Nadal never ceases to surprise , however he seems to have gone the Federer way – plays amazing at times , but then the level drops for no rhyme or reason.

2014 is going to be an interesting year . Feds inconsistent brilliance , drop in nadals level of play , Murray coming back from an injury , wawa perhaps becoming a more prominent fixture in the semis of tournaments and winning a few masters or another major.

Sean Randall Says:

van orten, I’m just pointing out a fact. Is that a problem?

Ben Pronin Says:

Djokovic winning 4 matches hardly qualifies as a hot streak. Let’s see how far he can take this good form. Today’s match was easily the best he’s played all year with every aspect of his game clicking.

Wawrinka winning a few masters? Right now Djokovic and Nadal hold all of the Masters events between themselves. Let’s see if Wawrinka can win one first.

Ben Pronin Says:

By the way, Alison, you were really close in your 6-2 6-2 prediction. Just one game off in each set.

Hippy Chic Says:

Ben lol maybe i will change my monikor to mystic Hippy Chic then,well done to Novak richly deserved BTW :))..

Klaas Says:

The clay season could become very interesting….

skeezer Says:

No surprize the trash talking troll “cult” left the building, as they did at AO. Can’t stick around as a tennis fan, only when Nadull wins.
Congrats to Nole fans, he has turned out to be quite the warrior. Rafa had every advantage this tourney, serve was back, cupcake draw and the slowest HC on tour. What happened? He got thumped, thats what happened.

Maybe Rafa will be sleeping on a Clay court tonight, just to get the feeling back, no?

van orten Says:

I hope you give credit to boris then when nole raises the trophy at rg… :)))

Giles Says:

Real thumping is when Rafa beats Fed. Really enjoyable!! Hehehe

Giles Says:

The King of Clay will rest for 2 weeks and resume his mastery on the red stuff.
Vamos Rafa!
Stay Healthy!

Giles Says:

Rafa was asked in his presser if he was glad Novak exists. His reply “I like challenges but I am not stupid”.
Dopey question = clever response.

Skeezer Says:

“King of Clay”
Yes, King of ONE surface.

Polo Says:

Djokovic does not need Becker.

Mike D. Says:

What no write up on the women’s title match?

Okiegal Says:

@Van Orten

I bet it will be a toss up whether or not Boris shows up at RG…..Novak is much more comfortable with V. imo.

Dc Says:

@Giles Says:
Real thumping is when Rafa beats Fed. Really enjoyable!! Hehehe

March 30th, 2014 at 6:14 pm
U mean better than Rosol beating nadal at his prime In a grand slam!!

Bad Knee Rules Says:

If I was a Nadal fan I wouldn’t get my hopes up for the clay season. His confidence has faltered, not just because Novak beat him in the last three finals without giving him a set, but because since USO Nadal hasn’t own anything big. Two Mickey Mouse tournaments out of the nine he played – not really a confidence boost for #1 approaching clay season.

Polo Says:

At RG,
In Djoko’s corner, Becker
rhymes with disaster.

Patson Says:

Awesome Nole ! As I expected, he delivered a comprehensive performance. Hoping for his form to continue throughout the rest of the season. I see shades of 2011 !

Adje Nole!

skeezer Says:

Agree. And this tourney? His road to the final on the slowest HC on tour? Fognini and Raonic. He was primed, ready, and had the surface, and draw. I actually picked him to win, lol. My bad.

metan Says:

Congrats to Nole and all his fans _!!!!!.
Special for Courbon, got the antidote on time.hehehe
For clay season, I am going to hide it in Pandora Box, no one knows the place. 😄😄😄😄.

lylenubbins Says:

Rafa kept giving him short balls, Nole was never under pressure. Can’t beat Nole giving him midcourt balls all day.

metan Says:

Bad Knee Rules,
Pretty much I agree with your post 7.37pm. But I will see until montecarlo.

Daniel Says:

Basically every time Nadal tried his bread and butter: go lefty FH to BH high, Djoko would feed on that ball and unleash a cross court winner at will, his timing on that shot was impressive. Some balls were landing shorter than service line in Nadal side. Also, when Nadal hitter a few inside out FH to Djoko’s FH he defended with a squash forehand and some balls Nadal missed or did not finished the point. Nadal didn’t even have time to try a new tactic or adjust. Plus, Djoko’s return were deep all the time, the score were even better than the real match. Nadal saved 2 BP’s in different games in second set. Very clinical performance from Djoko.

As of now is pretty clear, every time they play on HC, Djoko has the edge, 2 out of 3 and this stat can get better as it seems.

Now he could ask for a better way to enter clay and Nadal even tough final is a good result and he played 4 finals this year already (out of 5 tourneys), but he lost 2, the most important ones and as BKR pointed, he won nothing big after US Open, out of his last 9 tourneys. He needs a stamens win in MC otherwise red lights entering Madrid and Rome.

Djoko and Nadal stranglehold of Masters is impressive. Djoko is on a high tide winning the last 4 including WTF. Let’s see if clay order get restored (Nadal winning a few) or if any other will cause an upset to one of them.

tennisfansince76 Says:

Will this be the year Nadal is dethroned at RG? Says:

Mmmmmmm…. Speechless in Miami! And pretty quiet here.

skeezer Says:

^ those types = big talk but little or no mettle. Only fair weather. They will come back when Rafa wins only.

Skorocel Says:

Back in 2004 when Agassi won his record 17th (and also last) MS 1000 title in Cincinnati, who would’ve thought that, 10 years later, there’d be no less than 3 people owning 18 or more MS 1000 titles (?)…

funches Says:

i see Rafa acknowledged today what I’ve been saying for years but no one else has picked up on: The problem for him in the matchup with Djokovic when Nole is clicking is that he gets behind on the first shot of virtually every point–Djokovic’s serve is better than Nadal’s return, and Djokovic’s service return is better than Nadal’s serve. On clay, and even sometimes on hard courts, Rafa plays well enough to overcome that issue, but it’s always there and is not surface specific.

If Djokovic plays at a high level at Roland Garros, he will beat Rafa in the final, but he hasn’t been able to do it over five sets on clay yet. If healthy, both of them are locks to reach the final. Djokovic needs to get it done this time.

Okiegal Says:


Okiegal is here! I posted congrats to all Novak fans on another thread. Rafa not winning doesn’t affect my involvement with TX. I will keep reading comments and commenting, win or lose! That’s how we roll in Oklahoma!! LOL

skeezer Says:

Kudos to you ;)!

Okiegal Says:


Are you a Novak fan…..or are you for whoever Rafa’s is playing against?? You don’t have to answer that….I was trying to be funny!! Need some humor here….imho!! LOL

skeezer Says:

Fed first(of course), and then Nole. I like Nole’s game because his ground court name has been built very solid technically. Because of this, his game is limitlesss from the backcourt. He is sound from both wings. His transition game however continually needs improvement, and mat4(if he is still around) can explain further. Overall a solid foundational technique that was built for tennis production.
Not into “where you are from” nor “what you look like”, just a tennis player who admires the performance and technique of the pro player. To each there own as far as a fan goes however, whatever makes your watch the game and enjoy, no?

roy Says:

@Skeezer Says:
‘“King of Clay”
Yes, King of ONE surface.’

turns out CLAY IS A REAL SURFACE! it counts! it’s a traditional surface with the second longest history! as much as federer/sampras fans want to pretend clay results don’t matter, as much as it burns in the guts, clay counts!

btw, don’t federer fans love grand slam results? aren’t they all that matter?


5. Rafael Nadal .881

9. Roger Federer .863

hey, how many slams on clay again? was it two slams, like with hard courts? or just the one?
how did nadal win so many gs matches?

and here’s another riddle: how many active players have better hard court records than nadal?
answer: only djokovic and federer.

nadal the terrible hard courter! losing the miami final to djokovic, who has the SECOND HIGHEST hard win percentage of ALL TIME and will probably go down as the greatest hard court player ever.

imagine if nadal hadn’t been playing the greatest hard court player of all time in all those hard court finals … you know … if he’d had the benefit of the ‘vacuum era’ as federer’s prime will come to be known?

James Says:

@funches, what Nadal meant was Novak’s serve is better his serve, and also has better return of serve than his. And I agree with him.
Nadal’s return today quite bad though.

Nadal was playing much better tennis last summer. So, it’s not like he doesn’t know how to beat Djokovic on hard court. What he needs is more practice.
He better prepare well for the clay season if he wants to hold on to the no.1 ranking and defend RG.

James Says:

@skeezer, what makes you think slow hard court favors Nadal more than Djokovic? The Serb is now 6-1 vs Nadal on these slow hard courts, AO, IW, Miami.

As a matter of fact, ND dominates Nadal, Murray and Federer on slow hard courts. I’m not even sure when was the last time Murray or Nadal or Federer defeated Djokovic on a slow hard court.
Djokovic is like the king of slow hard courts.

Okiegal Says:


Thanks for the feedback. I enjoy reading everyone’s opinion about the different players style and type of tennis they each play. I don’t know much about that. Novak is a great player…..his game certainly troubles Rafa, for sure. Rafa didn’t play anywhere close to his level that he played at USO. I don’t get it!! Just like Stan after his Oz win….He has done terrible. Tennis is so fickle…..imo! Oh, well….on to clay!! Yippy Skippy!!!

Bad Knee Rules Says:

Rio was a mistake, Nadal should’ve played Acapulco HC.
By the way, Novak’s secret has been revealed. Bjorn Borg underwear beats Armani:

skeezer Says:

roy, roy roy. Really?
Your posts have been debunked over and over by various tennis fans. I mean why bother? Now your grasping for Rafa favorable “stat” straws. Typical. Was surprised h2h wasn’t mentioned.
Yep, sure is. But its still ……..ONE surface.
“imagine if “, ahhh the rafanatic typical “start” argument.
Heee hee! shammmmooon!

skeezer Says:

“what makes you think slow hard court favors Nadal more than Djokovic? ”
Well, its a well known fact Rafa plays well the slower the court. Faster courts he has a poorest record, no? So the math says he has his best chances on the slowest courts, no?
(And Grass got slow after 2001).

Daniel Says:

Interesting stat, last time Nadal beat Djoko after losing the first set was that epic Madrid 2009 where he won 2 tiebreaks after and it only happened one other time, the Wimbledon match in 2007 where Djoko retire (2 out of 22, 1 out of 11). For Djoko, 3 out of his 18 wins he lost first set (3 out of 18, 1 out of 6).

So, this means that basically if Djokovic wins first set, the match is his.

James Says:

“Well, its a well known fact Rafa plays well the slower the court. Faster courts he has a poorest record, no?”

I don’t know if Montreal, Toronto, US Open are slower than Miami. Nadal’s beaten Djokovic on those courts but never in Miami. They must be super slow, I guess 8)

tennisfansince76 Says:

@Roy nobody is saying clay doesn’t count. It just don’t count as much;)

Daniel Says:


Regarding Djoko:
“and will probably go down as the greatest hard court player ever.”

That is a bit too much now. He has 5 Slams on Hard, Federer has 9, plus Federer wins in all other categories (titles, WTF, hard course streak, etc…). He would have to win 4 more, 5 more to be alone. Not probably, at least I use it in the sense of almost certainty, maybe will go down…is more suitable.

What we can say now is Djokovic is on par with Federer or is the best slow hard court player. He has more Mimi titles than Federer, tied in IW and tied in AO.

funches Says:

On a slow hard court, Djokovic’s shots penetrate the court better than Nadal’s.

On a faster hard court, Nadal can hit winners, too. His problems in the past were return of serve against big servers, but he has improved considerably in that department so that he has a much better shot at Djokovic on a fast hard court than a slow one.

He has the upper hand on clay because he is the greatest mover in the history of the game on that surface and gets that high bounce, too. Djokovic is a better mover than Nadal on hard courts, but not on clay, where he loses his footing too often.

Daniel Says:

Nadal is also built on confidence, last year his IW run a clay helped him during North America hard swing. He lost early in Wimbledon but Djoko losing to Murray the way he did hurt his confidence and he didn’t play his best in North America hard. That US Open he lost focus in third set and never regroup after. He wasn’t able to hold his game as he did today and other matches.

As much as we would like it to be, but we got few times both players playing really greta at the same time on a given day. Today was a classic example.

Daniel Says:

funches agree.

As of lately, Nadal develop a better return of serve and voter Djokvic more in fast courts, No wonder he doesn’t beat him in AO, IW and Miami fro quit some time now. But got wins in Montreal and US Open. On paper, Djoko should have more wins than Nadal in US Open, but he lost finals to all other of his main rivals there, Nadal (2), Federer (1) and Murray (1). He avenge one over Nadal and a few over Federer, but has to beat Murray there also. He should have more US Opens by now already and I believe he will get 1 more or 2. Is also his most consistent Slam where he reaches at least semis since 2007 with the last 4 finals.

Michael Says:

Congrats to Novak for making the coveted doubles a second time in his career and thereby equalling a record set in the past. It was indeed a comprehensive display by him simply outclassing Rafa with his exquisite play. He was simply dominating him on court right through the match except for a brief period in the opening set when his service game was under threat. Rafa’s fans need to acknowledge this that it is Novak alone who has the wherewithal to counter Rafa’s ferocious cross court forehand shots which troubles every opponent on the Tennis circuit but Novak. He just quells that with effortless ease and when these two are on court, it always looks like it is Novak who is the aggressor. Rafa made more UEs but as it was rightly pointed out it was more due to the pressure exerted by Novak with his brilliant play. His return of serves were simply sharp and unsettled Rafa. It was not that Rafa was playing bad Tennis, but he didn’t have enough to combat Novak’s brilliance on court. Now with this win, Novak might sentimentally prefer Vajra to Boris although it has no rational basis. And that should be bad news for Becker.

Michael Says:

Hard luck to Rafa and it is his fourth finals at Miami, a tournament he has never been able to win. My commiserations to devout Rafa fans. Perhaps he has age on his side and he would get more opportunities. Rafa might eventually go on to win this tournament one day and that is the hope.

Michael Says:

Well with clay season coming, this fantastic double of Novak at the opening of the season is going to propel him to greater heights and go into Rafa’s territory with more vigour and confidence. It may be this year when Novak would finally realize his ambition of winning Rolland Garros. Ofcourse beating Rafa on Clay is a different thing altogether, but even on this court, it is only Novak who has given him all the frights in the past and so he has the confidence to play against him and go on to win. Let us see what unfolds.

James Says:

“King of Clay”
Yes, King of ONE surface.

Just went through the comments.
Wow! And I thought you wanted to be taken seriously. King of ONE surface. Yes. He alone is a king on a surface, no one else is.

Oh well, enjoy another Nadal defeat.

mat4 Says:


Yes, from time to time I am here. I still don’t watch enough tennis, and I am having a hard time at work, so I stopped posting not only here, but everywhere.

Roger plays tremendously well this year, and I believe that you enjoy watching him again. But while his new racquet helps him, I believe that he will need a few months more to feel it properly, especially when he is tired, and it will improve his results. He already has much more pop on his BH, and a stable and efficient return.

But to answer to your question, and to make a few reflections about slow/fast courts:

I believe that Novak feels that he has to improve his transition game, and, indeed, most of the time he is one step to late — because he waits to see where his shot will land before rushing to the net. He starts always a split second to late, because that’s not his usual way of playing.

It is a question of mentality: while Roger is always very loose and daring, while Rafa plays with the energy of despair when he is under pressure (and with the quantity of spin he generates he always has a buffer of security), Novak and Murray have to relax (to be ahead or hopelessly behind on the score) to swing freely.

Novak also feels that he doesn’t have to take risks to win a point — now that he has improved his slice BH, he probably has the most balanced and versatile game from the baseline I have ever seen: from shot to shot he changes the spin, the height, depth and direction of the ball, so he tends to win points forcing his opponents to make an error.

Of course, it doesn’t work against Rafa (RG last year was a good illustration for that), nor Roger, nor Murray so he has to be much more aggressive. You just can’t play not to lose against those champions.

What has changed against Rafa after the USO? Until then, Novak used to pin him on the backhand side, open the court for a CC BH, hit CC and then there were two outcomes: 1. it could be an outright winner, 2. Rafa would defend with a CC FH. Then, Rafa changed everything: he dramatically improved his BH (especially CC), and he also started to play his FH DTL more often. Now, Novak changes direction at every shot, making Rafa play on the run every time. That’s the way Ferrer played against Rafa in Paris, and such game doesn’t allow Rafa to take the initiative in the rallies.

Rafa, BTW, has emphatically improved his serve, serving at 128 mph a few times, so it’s not his serving that hurts him, but his return game: he stands 6, 7 feet behind the baseline waiting for a second serve. That’s where he could improve his game.

Last year has shown that he has no edge on clay against Novak. If Djokovic plays the way he did yesterday for three sets, he will win. But while Rafa is almost certain to play the final, Novak isn’t.

andrea Says:

it was an eerily perfect match…novak was totally in the zone. nadal did well to hang around as much as he did, but not much else he could do.

Margot Says:

Good to see you back. Yes, agree the way Nole was able to change direction on the ball, was the killer. He had Rafa guessing all the time.
Well played, as they say.

mat4 Says:


I am quite certain about it. I compared matches, and the change started in Beijing, but was clear in Paris.

I also watched two Andy’s matches last week: against Tsonga and Novak. I was very impressed by his game, especially at the beginning of the second set against Djokovic: he was the utterly dominant player.

But he has to play more often that aggressive brand of tennis to become consistent enough. And, while I think about it, perhaps his time in Spain was in that sense inefficient. While he is really an excellent player at playing cat and mouse games, with versatile shots, a divine slice, he should use his power more often, and combine heavy shots with forays at the net.

Margot Says:

Yes, I often think about that Spanish influence. Andy has said he started playing against much older and bigger guys than him, so he couldn’t outhit them and thus had to out think them.
At last, I think he’s realising that he can out hit opponents and can pro-actively end rallies without waiting for them to make an error. Some of those early recordings on Youtube are frankly embarrassing.
But his aggressive position on ROSecond serve, is a thing of joy :)

Nirmal Kumar Says:

Probably one of the very few matches in Rafa’s career where he had someone dominate him from start to finish. Great win by Novak.

I still believe nothing changes for clay season. I would still give Rafa a slightly more favourite than Novak to win most of the clay titles.

For FO, thats still a long way away, and still someone other than Nadal actually wins it, it would be Nadal the favorite.

mat4 Says:

While tribute to Lendl for Murray’s achievements in the last two years has to be given, I honestly believe that a coach like Vajda would have helped him to find that right balance between consistency and aggressiveness. I mentioned Vajda not because he is Novak’s coach, but because he has a specific Slavic mentality, something that Lendl has too, that allowed him to be a fatherly figure in Novak’s life (and he is a more experienced coach than Lendl).

While we are at coaching: I am also certain that Becker wasn’t Novak’s choice, but Vajda’s and Pilic’s choice. Vajda is on the road for years already; his children are growing without him, the health of his wife seems precarious, and it is understandable that he wanted to make a break. Becker is not a danger for him, while, on the other side, under the direction of Vajda he can help Novak improve his transition and net game, and with his optimism he can help Novak being mentally stronger and more relaxed in matches.

I think that Novak’s volleying is improving in big strides, and it was evident yesterday, and his serve seems better too. Something that we don’t write often enough is the effect a racquet change has on a player: we could see that Roger, although his new racquet suits him very well and helped his game, tends to make more easy errors when he is tired. The same way Novak seems to finally fully control the racquet he got last year. When serving, he has more spin and more precision, and now the % are here too.

Finally, something unnoticed on this blog. Asked in the on-court interview if he had mentally broken Rafa in this match, Novak answered:

“Of course I did.”

Never heard such an admission by any player.

Margot Says:

Did you know Bob Brett’s name is in the frame for Andy’s next coach?
Used to coach Boris….;)

mat4 Says:

He coached Cilic lately, if I remember well. He seems to be an excellent coach, nurturing offensive tennis.

But I don’t think he is a good option for Murray. Frankly, I don’t believe that he really needs a great coach. He needs a great man at his side, somebody who won’t be here for the money, or for the fame, but only for him.

mat4 Says:

And let’s not be deceived: Novak’s results in IW and Miami are the results, in part, of his work with Boris Becker. The 70% of first serves in the most critical matches, the deep volleys (although he still thinks too much when playing them, the direction selection is not automatic), the fact that he relies more on his forehand, all of this has “Becker” written on it somewhere.

Gordon Says:

Well, I thought after Djokovic lost to Wawrinka at the AO there would be no way he could reclaim the #1 ranking in the world prior to Wimbledon, but consider this:

Of the big upcoming tournaments – 3 Masters 1000 (Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome) and Roland Garros, Nadal win all of them and therefore has to defend 5,000 points (3 x 1000 plus 2,000 for RG).

Djokovic in these 4 tourneys respectively made the final, second round, quarter finals and semi finals, meaning he is defending a total of 1525 points.

Being that as of today Djokovic is 1920 points behind Nadal, if he continues his exemplary play he could be number one going into Wimbledon by making the finals of all 4, even should he lose all 4 finals to Nadal.

(Reaching the finals of all 4 would give him 3600 points, or a gain of 2075 points over what he is defending)

Of course should Djokovic win at least one of these upcoming tournaments then he would gain huge points on Nadal who cannot gain any points at these tournaments.

It’s going to be a great clay season.

Hippy Chic Says:

Skeezer@March 30th 9.30pm i also posted congrats to all Nole fans on the other thread,although as i also explained,i have issues in the real world ATM,so my posts will only be sporadic,unless i have access to a computer.

El_Flaco Says:

Djokovic also likes to take the return of serve up on the baseline and on a faster hard court like the U.S Open he is going to miss more returns whether it is against Nadal or Federer. It is also easier to jam him which Nadal likes to do.

Hippy Chic Says:

Michael while i agree with you about Novak having the game to beat Rafa clay or otherwise,and i agree that this might be the year Rafa loses at the FO to Novak or someone else by the law of averages alone,its not necassarily a shoe Novak will make the final,IMO Andy and Stan have another level to go up as yet,Novak looks pretty good ATM,but no offence i think the other guys are been sold a little short here,still JMO..

Perfect fan Says:

many congrats to all nole fans across the world….for the power packed double-delight that nole has served. It seems the AO failure has done a world of good to his attitude and he is thinking clear atm. Good signs for him n his fans at the dawn of the clay season.

But CAUTION!!!! to all atp players stepping ahead…..
Its the “Rafael Nadal (aka Clay) season” that awaits. Better watch ur step. :)

Ben Pronin Says:

Djokovic does have Monte Carlo to defend.

Perfect fan Says:

Rafa has to defend 5100 atp points in 2 months….a MOUNT EVEREST to climb. Had it been anyone else, I wud have said already, “Nope! ain’t gonna happen”. But rafa and on clay….I’ll bet my life n I m serious.

Beating rafa on clay is a dream for any player and atm….one that is the best bet is nole, who has improved his game on clay tremendously over the last couple of years….but,but,but, to beat rafa he has to sustain his level of play consistently at the best, which is not easy.

Rafa literally feeds on negative energy of his opponents, esp. on clay. A little tiredness, a sloppy service game….n rafa will spank you. One may start aggressively and even break him initially, but them rafa waits for that weak moment like a vulture and literally pounces….a good example is 2011 RG final, fed was leading 5-2 first set and was looking too good….one sloppy service game and rafa took the set 7-5 and curtains for fed.

Last year nole shown the world what he can do on clay….but rafa, I believe will be extra cautious n prepared this time to defend his kingdom against nole. Seriously, I won’t be surprised if rafa beats nole in 4 or even 3 sets. But with all said, nole is still the only one atm, who can defeat rafa at RG….provided he plays very motivated, determined, resilient and above all very composed and keeps his level consistently through out the match. But, still very very tough to do that…with rafa playing at a high level atm.

I m dying to see another rafole final at RG this year. BRING IT ON !! :)

Okiegal Says:

Should Rafa lose the number one ranking to Novak, I’m OK with. I personally think he has always played better when lower ranked. He doesn’t have that extra added pressure on his back with being number one. 2013 was a year that will never be forgotten among the annals of tennis history. I witnessed a come back like no other. When his year was topped off by beating Novak soundly at the US Open, well I was so elated. He was written off in that match before it even got started. Novak was on the receiving end of the mental beat down that night.

Novak is on a roll and good for him and his fans.
It’s back to the drawing board for Rafa to try and make some adjustments and try to figure out to beat Novak……and you can bet your bottom dollar he will do just that! It’s a great rivalry for sure.

Polo Says:

Nadal remains the overwhelming favorite to win the French. This loss will only motivate him more. Rafa is a phoenix.

Okiegal Says:

Rafa is in his comfort zone during clay court season but I don’t think he goes into every clay court match thinking he is invincible. I have never seen him act cocky about his prowess on clay. He has admitted before about Novak getting in his head…how many great athletes would ever admit to that?? I hope he did take note that Novak had the audacity to actually say that in an interview. Maybe that will put a little fire under his behind and motivate him to get “mental revenge” against Novak. If he can mentally get right then maybe he can get his racquet to do the talking!

jk31 Says:

“war child which brings with it a lack of character”
Usually I ignore this poster, but this is really beyond the bounds of his normal idiocy.
Djokovic is a straightforward character, who answers questions honestly, without false humility.

Skeezer Says:

^yes thought that was totally out of bounds also! Trnnis -x guidelines says so.

Dc Says:

‘“war child which brings with it a lack of character”

Seriously – u are kidding – right ? Growing up in such a hostile environment and making it to the top if your profession is a super remarkable achievement.

He does not make excuses for his losses an says what he thinks.- speaks a lot about his awesome character.

Daniel Says:

The mental aspect is there.
Monte Carlos will be a great indication, if Djoko wins again and if it is in straight sets again Nadal may start to panic. Djoko is already on a 3 match winning streak against him all in straight sets. If he gets a fourth on clay Nadal can revisit nightmare thinking: OMG, 2011 can happen again. The sooner he beats Djoko on clay the better. Last time he revert the trend, in 2012 Monte Carlo, Djoko was coming of his grandfather death, so in a sense Nadal was helped by off court events.

This is a very dangerous territory for him yet again, only to add extra pressure during his clay campaign, if he loses to Novak again it can affect his confidence and he can lose to somebody else. Remember that 2011 he play bad all RG, but still won. And this is where he can get his motivation from. Even shaken he can still win!

I hope we get to see a Nadal x Murray Quarter final on clay for a change and a rematch with Wawa before RG. With DelPo out, Ferrer aging, the only ones who can win RG are the remaining slam winners, to me with the following percentages: Nadal (60%), Djoko (30%), Federer (5%), Wawa (4%) and Murray (1%). No one else can and one of this 5 will lift the trophy.

Giles Says:

Can you imagine what would happen in this world if we all said and spoke out loud about what we think? Hmmm. What’s wrong with a bit of subtlety??

Mr. Larvey Says:

There was one interesting thing in Novak’s game yesterday that has been slighly overlooked – he played basically all his volleys phenomenally. When Nole lost to Wawa in AusOpen, many were bashing BB and Nole about bad tactics, especially because he missed the volley on the match point. Now, when same tactics are used in very effective manner, no one is giving any credit to BB. Yes, BB was not in the crouds, but at least I haven’t seen Nole this sharp at the net earlier.

Okiegal Says:

Rafa’s post final presser…….Question: “A mental block to actually win it? Answer: last two paragraphs of his answer….”But Miami is the same level as IW, Cincy, Toronto, MC, Rome, Madrid. The quality of the tournament is Masters 1000 that I won 26, so I cannot have a block on that, mental block on that (smiling). Maybe you tell me another kind of thing maybe, but mental block on something you won 26 times is not the thing that I have to worry about Miami, need to find another excuses (laughter)…..

Hippy Chic Says:

Disagree with Daniel i hope to see more of Novak and Andy on the same side of the draw,so i get the possiblity of my two favorites in a final..

Klaas Says:

Thanks to Mat for his analyses. Great stuff! Wish to add that both Nole and Wawrinka use the short CC on both sides to open up the rallies against Nadal.
This is a tactic just as useful on clay.

Also am slightly disgusted by a person for using the term “war child” as somehow resulting in an inferior person. What do you know about it?

Character-wise Nole is an outstanding person who is more open, impulsive and outward than any of the other pro-elite players. So what if not everything he says follows the accepted boring standard guidelines?

Pat Merkel Says:


Okiegal Says:


Agree……war child statement totally out of line. Moderators should remove that tacky, brutal remark. War is a very painful event in one’s life. I don’t know or care which side was right or wrong. Remove it please!!

Okiegal Says:


“Roy, nobody is saying clay doesn’t count… just doesn’t count as much”……..really?? 8 French open grand slam titles don’t count as much as 8 US Opens?? Alrighty, then……whatever!! Loved that post…..made me laugh!!

Hippy Chic Says:

Agree about that post seem like any old thing is getting through moderation these days,last week it was about John Isner,then Rafa and Larry Ellison,now this urgh..

DC Says:

@Giles Says:
Can you imagine what would happen in this world if we all said and spoke out loud about what we think? Hmmm. What’s wrong with a bit of subtlety??
mere mortals like you should not. Greats like Nole, Rafa, Fed etc should speak their mind.

skeezer Says:


Yep to add to Klass’s post thanks for the awesome analysis as usual. Good stuff. Thanks for chimin in now and then…

mat4 Says:


You’re welcome. I didn’t written anything that wasn’t known, it’s just a synthesis.

But recently a big part of my work shifted online, so I am working most of the time in another tab and I can have a look now and then here.

What do you think about the beginning of the generation shift? Do you see a young player making his breakthrough this year? Dimitrov excepted, of course, since he seems to be on the right track.

I thought recently, watching the “middle generation” improve (Nishikori, Dolgopolov, Cilic, Gulbis, Del Potro, who, unfortunately, is injured again), how difficult it was now to make it to the top.

Polo Says:

I believe that the French Open iis looked upon as a lesser tournament as compared with Wimbledon and the US Open because until Nadal came along, most of the French Open winners were clay court especialists who cannot hack it in other surfaces. Says:

Was it 2012 that Rafa was out for a while? Then he came back in 2013 and won so many tournaments and quickly shot to #one since he had fewer points to defend from 2012 (obviously). Now, with all the 2013 points to defend, lord knows how things will go. I think it stands to reason that Joker has a very good chance at getting the top position back before year’s end.
Having said all that, we also know the shocking exits that tend to occur in early rounds of slams. LET’S NOT forget the rest of the players. I already smell an interesting tennis year. In short, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

Sorry if I reproduced anybody’s ‘thoughts’. That can easily happen since I am psychic.

A Tango Lad Says:

Polo, that was until they sped up clay. I’m not sure Roger would even have his single French title if this did not occur.

As far as anyone claiming Nadal has the advantage over Djokovic on slow hard courts relative to hard, they should check their facts (something few seem to do when influenced by personal bias).

Nadal has a better winning percentage against Djokovic on faster hard courts compared to slow courts.

It is Djokovic’s advantage on the slower hard courts obviously.

I would think that supposed tennis experts here would have known this already.

Anyone who believes that Nadal is not the favourite on clay are quite simply delusional.

Quite hilarious actually.

skeezer Says:

ATL says
“Polo, that was until they sped up clay….”
Really? WTF? When did they speed up RG, LMAO! Please provide links and facts.
You sound partial, not objective. Nadull closet fans in action…
The Maestro deserved his well earned title on Clay, the very same year Sod made Rafa run around like a bunny rabbit in Rafa’s defeat.

Daniel Says:


You are right regarding RG. For a while it was dominted by only clay specialist. After Nadal and in this era where Fed won and Djoko on a quest tehre as well is getting more relevance. But if you ask anybody, they will always go for Wimbledon due to prestige.

Also Wimbledon and US Open as the more coveted ones were won more times by the best players hence they have fewer winners than RG.

Bad Knee Rules Says:

“Polo, that was until they sped up clay….”
Really? WTF? When did they speed up RG, LMAO! Please provide links and facts.
Same here. On the other hand, Wimbledon has been slowed down. Not only that but the bounce has been made higher:

tennisfansince76 Says:

@okiegal that was half a joke and half serious. I was trying to get Roy’s goat. When I played tennis many years ago it was always on hard courts. It is the style of tennis I know and appreciate best. I like tennis that has precise aggression and quick initiative like roger plays. I am not so much a fan of grinding positional tennis such as what Murray and Djokovic play. If I were a top tennis pro I would most like to win Wimbledon and the duo followed by the Australian open and the French open. No absolute law just my perspective. That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate clay court tennis. I do. Just not as much. Also I’m not denigrating rafa´s accomplishments on clay. He is a beast on clay, a once in a life time phenomenon on the dirt. 8 th titles is simply ridiculous. So is 7 Wimbledon imho.

Okiegal Says:


Well, color me stupid….LOL….There is so much double talk on this forum I don’t know when someone is being serious, teasing, funny or just trying to get someone’s GOAT! I stand corrected. I have always been partial to clay, not just because that is Rafa’s best surface. I’ve been a tennis fan for a long time…….when all the slams were on clay and grass. I think clay is exciting, I love the grinding tennis……think serve and volley rather dull. It’s just each person’s preference. To each his own! I’m looking forward to Monte Carlo. Novak will have to defend his points there, and the way he’s playing, he will probably do it. Rafa has lots of points to defend……should be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Sorry I misread your post and apologize for my tacky response!! Thanks for the feedback.

Okiegal Says:


I read you post again and you said you were half teasing and half serious……no wonder I had trouble understanding what you meant!! Lol

skeezer Says:

Apologies for not responding earlier.
Re; young guns. Well the cracks getting through are there. Stan, although not that young, broke through a heavy draw, through 2 of the top 4 players in a Slam and won it all. It’s been like how long since that has happened?
Imo it gives the younger players a wake up call. You can break through and beat the top 4. It can be done.
At this level, mental confidence and belief is extremely important. Imho this year is going to bring some unexpected surprises, and it will come from players not in the top 4. Game on.

tennisfansince76 Says:

@okiegal don’t worry about it. No insult taken. And wow you have been watching tennis a long time. The first match I ever watched on tv was connors/Borg 1976 uso final. That was on hartru.

Okiegal Says:


Glad I didn’t insult you……being a Rafa fan and all I do get a little testy when folks downplay
clay!! LOL. Yes, I have been a tennis fan a long time…….started watching when I was four……
tee hee…..can’t give my age away, now can I??
Kidding of course. Watched that final too. If Borg was playing I was watching. He was my favorite. I liked him more than the US men that played at that time. I got interested in tennis in 1974. I took lessons but was horrible. I am looking forward to the clay court swing. Nice response…Thanks!

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