Novak Djokovic on facing Rafael Nadal on clay: ‘It’s not Mission impossible’

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were the players to beat in Monte Carlo 2009, defeating all the rivals and setting the title clash. It was their seventh meeting on clay, and Novak hoped to topple the king of clay for the first time on his beloved surface, feeling confident about his game and looking positive following the semi-final victory over Stan Wawrinka. Asked about the final meeting after finishing his clash against the Swiss, Novak denied it’s a mission impossible to overpower Nadal on clay; otherwise, it would have been pointless to even step on the court and fight. Djokovic defeated Wawrinka 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 in two hours and 27 minutes, toppling the Swiss for the sixth time in eight encounters and the fourth in a row at the Masters 1000 series in the last 13 months. Novak lost serve twice and secured five breaks from 14 opportunities to emerge at the top and set the title clash with world no. 1 Nadal.

Stan had more winners and forced more errors from Novak, but he ruined his chances after spraying 50 unforced errors. Djokovic earned the victory in the most extended exchanges, as nothing could separate them in the shortest and mid-range ones. Wawrinka saved four break chances in the opening two service games to stay in touch and hit a forehand winner at 3-4 to prolong the battle in the first set. Novak faced troubles on serve in the ninth game and hit a double fault on Stan’s fourth break chance to fall behind and allow the opponent to claim the set on his serve a few minutes later.

Novak Djokovic set Rafael Nadal clash in the 2009 Monte Carlo final.

Djokovic bounced back with a break in the second set’s second game and fired a forehand winner in the next one for a 3-0 advantage. The Serb broke again in the fourth game with a volley winner, saved a break point in the next one and closed it with a service winner. Novak held at 15 in the seventh game to wrap up the set and introduce a decider, where he fell 2-0 down. Wawrinka missed an easy forehand that could have sent him 3-0 in front and suffered a break that kept Djokovic in contention. Novak gained momentum and claimed the set 6-3 to advance into the title clash, seeking his second Masters 1000 crown on clay after winning Rome in 2008.

“I knew it would be a struggle for both of us. Stan is very strong physically, and he had momentum after beating Roger Federer. I made a slow start and waited for Stan’s errors instead of chasing my strokes. He used his opportunities wisely to take the set, and it was a different story in the second when I raised my first-serve percentage and played aggressive tennis. Playing against Rafa is not a ‘Mission Impossible.’ In that case, I should not step on the court. You can not beat Rafa if you do not believe in yourself. I will try to beat him; it’s the final, and I think I have chances. That’s the only attitude acceptable against him on this surface. Rafa has improved his game even more in comparison to the last year. His backhand is now stronger, and he now steps in and keeps that wing more efficiently. Rafa’s serve is also better, and he is a complete player. Still, it’s the final, and everything is possible. I’m motivated, and the pressure should be on Rafa because he is the favorite. I will try to be aggressive because that’s my style,” Novak Djokovic said. 

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