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

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms