ThrowbackTimes Miami: Novak Djokovic tops Rafael Nadal to move ahead of Agassi

Following the mind-blowing run in 2011 and another reliable season after that, Novak Djokovic lost the supremacy over the rest of the Tour when Rafael Nadal bounced back in 2013, with the Spaniard winning ten ATP titles and finishing as the year-end no. 1. Despite a relatively slow start of the 2014 season, Djokovic was back at the top of men’s tennis. It all started with his second ‘Sunshine Double’ in Indian Wells and Miami, competing on a high level to leave the closest rivals behind and reduce the deficit to Rafael Nadal ahead of the clay season. In Indian Wells, Novak toppled Roger Federer in the final in the deciding tie break and had a much easier job in Miami, playing only four matches (two walkovers) and taking all eight sets to lift the fourth Florida title. Like many times before, Djokovic and Nadal met in the title match after Tomas Berdych and Kei Nishikori gave them walkovers in the semi-final.

It was the 40th clash between two great rivals, and Novak scored the third straight win, beating the Spaniard 6-3, 6-3 in an hour and 24 minutes for the 18th triumph over Rafa and 43rd ATP title, the 18th on Masters 1000 level that left Andre Agassi on 17. The Serb grabbed the seventh triumph in the last nine encounters on hard courts against Rafa, earning it after hitting more winners and fewer unforced errors and controlling the pace with a sharp display on both serve and return.

Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in 2014 Miami final.

Nadal was powerless against the sheer power of Djokovic’s shots, falling behind in the shortest, mid-range and most extended rallies to finish runner-up for the fourth time in Miami in the last nine years, still seeking the elusive Florida crown! Both players served at 71%, and Novak was the one who drew the most from that, losing 11 points on serve and repelling the only break point he faced to keep the pressure on the other side.

Nadal dropped 44% of the points behind the initial shot, playing against four break chances and suffering three breaks to propel Djokovic over the finish line. Novak tamed Rafa’s forehand like probably no one before, forcing the Spaniard to cover the entire court and spreading him from one side to another with clinical hitting from both wings that gave him a considerable advantage. Interestingly, Rafa created that lone break opportunity in the encounter’s opening game after placing a forehand winner, denied by a well-constructed attack from Novak, who forced an error in game six to draw first blood and grab a break that sent him 4-2 up.

A service winner cemented the Serb’s lead, as he hit another in the ninth game to wrap up the opener 6-3 after 39 minutes. Ruling the court, Novak opened space in the second set’s first game to place a backhand crosscourt winner and earn an early break, taking 21 of the last 30 points for complete domination! Rafa saved a break chance in the fifth game to stay within one break deficit, never getting a chance to pull the break back and serving at 3-5 to remain in the tournament. Eager to take the trophy as soon as possible, Novak broke in that ninth game with a crafty point at the net, celebrating the crown and delivering a vital win over the rival who took the throne from him in the previous season. 

Leave a Reply