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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
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.

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices