Novak Djokovic did it again, defeating world number one Rafael Nadal 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) to win the Miami Masters and remain unbeaten in 2011.
Djokovic has now won all 24 matches he has played this year, the best start to a season since Ivan Lendl began 1986 with 25-0.
The Serbian, ranked second in the world, has captured four titles, including the Australian Open, Dubai and back-to-back elite Masters titles at Indian Wells and Miami, both with victories over Nadal in the finals.
Djokovic eyeing top spot
“It’s the best four months of my life, but it’s only the start of the season,” said Djokovic, who will remain at number two behind Nadal, even though the Spaniard has not won since Tokyo in October. “It’s a bit early to talk about getting that top spot in the rankings. Rafa is the best player in the world now.
“If I want to have the number one ranking, I need to play consistently well throughout the whole year.”
Nadal praises unbelievable Djokovic
As at Indian Wells a fortnight ago, Djokovic surrendered the first set to Nadal. But after a slugfest lasting over three hours on a steamy stadium court it was Djokovic who emerged the victor, blasting a forehand cross court for the victory on his third match point.
Any fatigue he might have been feeling disappeared with the victory, as Djokovic jumped for joy and an exhausted Nadal headed to his courtside chair.
“What he’s doing is unbelievable,” said Nadal. “First thing, he’s very good. Second thing, he’s playing with big confidence. The easiest thing to say is that he’s a very good tennis player.”
Djokovic drew first blood in the second set, breaking for a 2-0 lead. The momentum swung Djokovic’s way when Nadal delivered his sixth double-fault of the match to fall behind 3-2 in the tiebreaker. Djokovic won the next three points, giving himself a 6-2 lead and three championship points with a backhand down the line.
“Maybe I was a little bit more nervous than other days,” Nadal admitted. “Maybe because I’ve never won here, and this was the third chance.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 5th, 2011.
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