(2)Novak Djokovic d. (1)Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-4 (2:12 h)
For the first time in the 21-year-old history of the ‘Masters 1000’ tournaments, two players met in the final four times within a season! The final was delayed due to bad weather, rain caused that the match began three hours later than was supposed (at 7:15 p.m.). Maybe it was a favorable circumstance for Djokovic, who had played three consecutive matches under the floodlights whilst Nadal none in Rome. Actually it was a copy of their last week’s final in Madrid: two sets lasted more than two hours, Nadal was never ahead, and Djokovic got crucial breaks in both sets when he needed it the most. In contrary to their previous three meetings this year, Djokovic fell on his back after a winning match point, he wasn’t so emotional before. “I am definitely amazed with my playing,” Djokovic said. “But there’s no time to enjoy it – I’ve got to get ready for Roland Garros.” Nadal admitted: “He’s doing amazing things. Every match he’s very tough mentally and physically. I’m doing everything I can. I can’t ask myself anymore now. I’m doing very well but one player is doing better than me. I am waiting every week to try solutions, so let’s see.”
It’s interesting that Nadal known as a specialist of tight situations, has lost the last five sets to Djokovic (starting with their 3rd set tie-break in Miami) as they both were close to win the set. It’s a sign of tremendous mental advantage of the Serb right now. Once he is close to win a set, he finds another gear to move quicker and play faster from the baseline, especially his backhand from the level of his shoulders is astonishing. Djokovic winning his 25th title, becomes only the third man to beat Nadal twice on clay-courts, previously did it only the Roland Garros champions: Gaston Gaudio (Bastad 2004, Buenos Aires 2005) and Roger Federer (Hamburg 2007, Madrid 2009).
John Isner/Sam Querrey d. Mardy Fish/Andy Roddick w/o
I wanted to understand the phenomenon of Djokovic’s extraordinary streak and I was observing very carefully his ground-stroke game during the last two weeks. Obviously he improved mentally and physically, serves better, but what’s the most important in my opinion, is his perfect timing. He moves on the baseline smoothly in all directions being almost every time exactly in the place where should be, if the ball is faster and deeper he goes two steps back, if the ball is shorter he goes two steps forward. There’s no room for accidental shots, his baseline game is just perfect. Only Federer and Andre Agassi during their peaks, had an ability to operate amazingly on the baseline playing so often inside ‘no man’s land’, not allowing opponents to put a pressure on themselves during rallies, but neither of them had such an offensive stroke from the backhand side like Djokovic possess…
Now, with 39 wins in a row, 37 this season and 22 in “Masters 1000′ events, Djokovic has a great shot to overcome three amazing records of winning matches in succession. A record of the best start of the year (John McEnroe‘s 42) may have been broken three weeks since today in Paris – Djokovic has to get the final without a walkover – then he will notch the 43rd match won in a row to open the year! It’s a very probable scenario… And then, a hypothetical final with Nadal, 27 years ago McEnroe had beaten Ivan Lendl five times during his magical season before lost to the Czech in Parisian final. Will history repeat itself? We have to wait three weeks… Even if Nadal beats Djokovic in the Roland Garros final, the Serb will be the new No. 1 in the world!