Rafa snaps Djokovic hex with another Monte Carlo crown|
Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France (Sports Network) - If there was one place Rafael
Nadal was going to end a lengthy skid against Novak Djokovic, it was the
soothing red clay at the Monte Carlo Country Club.
Nadal captured his eighth consecutive Monte Carlo Masters title, and snapped a
seven-match losing streak to Djokovic in the process, with a 6-3, 6-1 rout of
the world No. 1 in Sunday's final.
Djokovic had dominated Nadal like no one else could since the start of 2011,
beating the Spanish superstar in seven consecutive finals. Featured in that
amazing run were victories at each of the last three Grand Slams, including a
five-set thriller at the Australian Open in January.
"It's very important to break that situation," said Nadal about finally
beating Djokovic again. "[Breaking] that situation [and] winning a Masters,
one of my favorites, [makes] everything perfect today."
Sunday's match was virtually no contest from the start.
Nadal picked up an early break and rolled from there. He closed out the first
set in 46 minutes with a second break, as Djokovic blew a shot wide after
saving one set point with a perfect serve and volley.
Djokovic sent a backhand long to give Nadal a break for a 2-0 lead in the
second set and the 10-time Grand Slam champ solidified it with a hold at love
in the next game. Another break followed for a 4-0 cushion before Djokovic
finally got on the board with a break of Nadal in the next game, drawing
cheers from the crowd.
The momentum didn't last long, as Nadal broke right back for a 5-1 edge and
completed the domination in the following game with an ace.
"He took his opportunities [in the] first set and made a break, and that's
it," said Djokovic. "I didn't make him play at all. I just was out there
trying to put the ball in the court."
Nadal notched his 42nd straight win at the Monte Carlo Country Club and
improved to 44-1 all-time at the event. He also beat Djokovic for the 2009
Monte Carlo crown and his only loss at the tournament was a 2003 third-round
setback to Guillermo Coria.
"To start the clay-court season winning here is an amazing feeling," Nadal
remarked. "This tournament is very special for me. My level of tennis was high
during the last four matches, since the second round."
Sunday's win gave Nadal his 20th career Masters title, snapping a tie with
Roger Federer for the most all-time. It was also the first tournament victory
of any kind for Nadal since last year's French Open. The main reason for the
drought, of course, had been Djokovic, whose previous loss to Nadal had come
at the 2010 ATP World Tour finals.
The Serb followed that season-ending loss to Nadal with a year for the ages in
2011, earning 10 titles -- including three Grand Slam victories -- and an
ascension to the top ranking. He beat Nadal in two clay finals -- Madrid and
Rome -- but didn't play at Monte Carlo and didn't make it to the French Open
final after a loss to Federer in the semifinals.
This season also started well for Djokovic, just not as good as last year when
he didn't lose until Roland Garros. After winning in Melbourne, he fell in the
semifinals at both Dubai and Indian Wells before claiming the Miami Masters.
It proved to be a difficult week for Djokovic, a Monte Carlo resident, as he
learned of his grandfather's death on Thursday. Still, he reached his 45th
career final and fell to 30-15 all-time in title matches.
"It's been a tough week, not just for me but for everybody in my family,"
Djokovic added. "We're going through this together. In the end, I played the
final and I'm really happy for that."
Nadal, meanwhile, claimed his 47th career title in 68 finals. A whopping 33 of
those titles have come on clay, trailing only Guillermo Vilas (45) and Thomas
Muster (40) for the most all-time. He has also won 72 straight matches on clay
in the month of April.
By snapping the lengthy losing streak in the series, Nadal improved to 17-14
all-time against Djokovic and earned a first prize of $603,000.
04/22 17:10:36 ET