Rafael Nadal’s fame as the master of the clay court was put to jeopardy today as Novak Djokovic humiliated him 4 -6, 6-3, 6-3, to win the final of Rome Masters just in time ahead of the French Open next Sunday.
Spain’s Nadal breezed through the opening set outclassing Djokovic 6 – 4, as the Serbian could not hide his anger and frustration by smashing his racket during the break.
Despite losing the first set and leaving the court as a broken man, Djokovic, quickly picked up his pieces and took advantage of the murky but calmed weather to fight back in the next set.
As if to remind himself that he was playing against Nadal, world’s no.1, and the King of the clay court, Djokovic found his strength from the first point without giving his opponent any breathing space.
By breaking Nadal twice in a row and making him to run around like a mad cow, Djokovic, snatched the second set, 6- 3 as the crowd backed him not to give up hope of carrying the day.
The third and last set saw both players putting up stupendous performances as the fans watched with disbelieve as the set went on for ages.
Although Nadal had the upper hand to take the lead in the third set by serving first, it was rather Djokovic who broke before winning his own service point.
The climax of the game was exhibited in the third point as both players refused to easily give in, by hanging on with each rally.
Playing for close to 10 minutes for a single point it was Nadal who finally emerged victorious, though he struggled to win his own service game, to put score at 2-1 with Djokovic still leading.
Djokovic, however, switched tactic by forcing Nadal to play by edges by hitting the balls harder at the baselines and giving him not time to find his bearing before the next strike or ball.
Never giving up, Nadal
Taking a comfortable lead with his third service point, Djokovic forgot about the competence of Nadal, who fought his way quickly, simply by dropping dead balls close to net far from his reach.
With the scores tied at 3 – 3 with the game going on already for 2hrs 07mins, it was Djokovic who broke immediately, hitting his chest at the end of the point as his coaching team led by German tennis legend, Boris Becker responded with the same gesture.
Not looking back, Djokovic finished the next point in less than 2 minutes, spanking Nadal 40 – 0, before wrapping up the championship by luring Nadal to surrender with an unforced error winner.
At 6 – 3 again, it was game over, as the Serbian let dropped his racked as he fell on the court as a way to celebrate his victory before getting up to draw a heart-shaped figure as a way to express his love to the fans at the Foro Italico court at Rome.
With the Roland Garros, being the last tournament and Grand Slam to end the clay court season, whoever wins between Nadal the title-holder and Djokovic, who is yet to win the French Open would be the true King of the Clay Court.