Posted by Barrie on Sunday, 19 April 2009

Djokovic tests Nadal on clay but world number 1 prevails

Rafael Nadal continued his incredible streak on clay today by becoming the first player to win 5 straight Monte Carlo championships, beating Novak Djokovic 6-3 2-6 6-1 in over 2.5 hours.

Rafael Nadal started by breaking Djokovic's serve, but it was no plain sailing as Djokovic broke straight back and took 2 more games for an opening set 3-1 lead. Nadal didn't panic after that, only stepped up his game if anything and started the fight back with some excellent tennis and 5 straight games to win the opening set, 6-3.

With some cracking tennis and rallies especially in the opening set, the pair continued to provide some excellent entertainment in the second set, and once again Djokovic took an early 3-1 lead in the set. As hard as Nadal tried to fight back in this set, Djokovic had answers to every question the world number 1 posed. A few lucky net shots and a lot of quality tennis, helped Djokovic hold on, and after a second break, Nadal didn't get back into the set; the Serbian taking it 6-2.

Djokovic continued off in the first game of the deciding set, where he left off in the second, forcing break points from Nadal. The first, Djokovic's drop shot looked set to be good enough until Nadal managed to race to the net and pull off an incredible cross shot winner wih the ball milimetres from bouncing a second time. Djokovic dropped to his knees and buried his head in the clay in disbelief. Nadal saved 2 more break points before holding onto serve. This game was followed up by 3 straight breaks of serve in a very long start to the final set that saw some excellent tennis, the same that had been displayed all day. After Nadal held for a 3-1 lead, Djokovic lost some confidence as Nadal was brimming with it and ran away with the final set, and taking his 5th straight Monte Carlo final victory; 6-3 2-6 6-1.

Rafael Nadal is undoubtedly the best player in the world right now, and looks like he can maintain that for some years to come. Djokovic showed potential in this match to challenging Nadal's dominence. But can someone stop Nadal at the French Open? That remains to be seen...

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