ATP World Tour Final 2013: Novak Djokovic has the final word over Rafael Nadal at the O2

 

The O2

It will be remembered as Rafael Nadal’s year, but Novak Djokovic showed here on Monday night that the Spaniard will have to fight every inch of the way if he is to maintain his global supremacy through 2014.

The 39th meeting between the world's top two players ended in victory for the Serb as Djokovic completed a successful defence of his title at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, winning 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 35 minutes.

Since losing to Nadal in the US Open final two months ago Djokovic has gone about his work like a man on a mission. Losing the world No 1 ranking to Nadal last month was inevitable given the Spaniard's extraordinary year, but Djokovic has been relentless in his refusal to let his rival draw clear at the top.

Since that defeat in New York Djokovic has won 22 matches in succession, claiming titles in Beijing, Shanghai, Paris and now London. Tomas Berdych and company face a mighty task as the Czech Republic attempt to deny Djokovic the perfect end to the season when they face Serbia in the Davis Cup final in Belgrade this weekend.

The rivalry between Nadal and Roger Federer used to be the sport's headline act, but the Nadal and Djokovic show has taken over as the ultimate confrontation in men's tennis. They have already met more times than any other pair of players in the Open era and their tally of 19 meetings in finals is just one short of the record held by Nadal and Federer and by Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe. This result puts Djokovic 10-9 ahead in terms of victories in those finals and leaves the pair level at 3-3 in head-to-head confrontations this year.

If the year-end championships remain a jewel missing from Nadal's crown, there should be no underestimating the size of his achievement here this week in conditions which are the most challenging to his game; the world  No 1 has not won a title on an indoor court for eight years.

Since returning in February after a seven-month absence with injury, Nadal has reached 14 finals and won 10 titles in 17 tournaments played. In recent weeks it seemed he might be winding down after his astonishing season, but over the last week he has given everything in his pursuit of this title. He will return to his home in Majorca more than satisfied after four victories over top 10 opponents here, even if the ultimate prize eluded him.

If the attraction of Federer and Nadal was their clash of styles, the appeal of Nadal and Djokovic lies largely in their stunning athleticism. Neither man ever admits that a cause is lost as they chase balls to every corner of the court, regularly turning stonewall defence into thrilling attack.

Djokovic, who generally has the advantage on hard courts, came out shooting from the hip, hitting the ball with great power and attacking at every opportunity. The Serb won nine of the first 11 points and soon led 3-0, only for Nadal to level at 3-3 by taking advantage of some careless hitting by his opponent.

However, when Nadal served at 3-4 Djokovic broke again after a rally that summed up his athletic brilliance. On break point Nadal seemed to be completely in charge as Djokovic chased a ball wide to his forehand, but the world  No 2 hoisted a sensational lob into the far corner and went on to hit a volley winner. After  44 minutes Djokovic took the set, completing the job with an ace.

Nadal dug himself out of trouble in the opening game of the second set, but two games later he was broken again, hitting a forehand long on Djokovic's third break point. The Serb's consistently excellent hitting had Nadal at full stretch throughout. Nadal saved two match points before Djokovic completed his victory when the Spaniard hit a forehand wide. Djokovic's joy was unconfined – and his own season is not over yet.

 

 

Get Adobe Flash player
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
News
Ireland will not find out whether gay couples have won the right to marry until Saturday afternoon
news
News
Kim Jong-un's brother Kim Jong-chol
news
News
Manchester city skyline as seen from Oldham above the streets of terraced houses in North West England on 7 April 2015.
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?