Rafael Nadal – Novak Djokovic
- Djokovic will be resting next week and we will next see him at the Madrid Masters, Rafa on the other hand will be making his way to Barcelona, where he is a mere six time champion, to head up a strong field there.
- Rafa beams as he holds up his runners-up trophy, it is a new one for his collection at least! Huge cheers from the crowd for him and for Novak as the Serb hoists the cup aloft.
- Nadal obviously disappointed but there are several tournaments for him to improve in before he defends his Roland Garros title: the one that Djokovic really wants. We can hopefully look forward to more clashes between these two over the next few months; whatever the rankings say they are surely the best two players in the world.
- Novak plays a teak tough tiebreak to run out as straight sets winner, he is delighted. A well deserved win for the Serb, he played superbly.
-Nadal 2-6 6-7 (1) Djokovic
Game, set and match Djokovic!
Novak fires a forehand winner to end Nadal’s incredible run at Monte Carlo.
Rafa ushered into an error and its five championship points.
Rafa fires a forehand wide… changeover.
Second serve for Novak but he gets Rafa on the run nonetheless.
Djokovic edges further ahead.
Nadal bangs his way to a first point.
Forehand long by Nadal after long rally. Minibreak to Djokovic.
First serve forces a return error.
- Novak to serve first…
- Nadal 2-6 6-6 Djokovic
Both players seem happier returning at the moment, as if the feeling of attacking their opponent’s serve allows them to play their best. Djokovic is all over Nadal’s first and second serves in this game and breaks to love. Tie break!
- Nadal 2-6 6-5 Djokovic
Even the great movement and defensive skills of Djokovic can’t contain the Nadal forehand on the opening point. However next up its a forehand error from Rafa with the court at his mercy. Massive level of aggression but can he stay accurate? Novak for his part seems a little rattled and a misplaced backhand means it is two break points. Djokovic takes a leaf out of Rafa’s book on the next point by running around to hit his forehand, ultimately it is another backhand error that sends the break to Nadal. Rafa to serve for the second set.
- Nadal 2-6 5-5 Djokovic
After the mishap in the previous game Rafa still does not hesitate to take on another overhead, which he smashes out of sight this time. Great shot making from Nadal and a rare backhand error from Djokovic see the game head the Spaniard’s way.
- Nadal 2-6 4-5 Djokovic
It is hard fighting all the way to 30-30. A big first serve gets Novak the next point and Rafa nets a tough running overhead to end the game. Djokovic is one game away from stripping Nadal of the Monte Carlo crown he has held for eight years.
- Nadal 2-6 4-4 Djokovic
There’s no question that Djokovic really dislikes the idea of a third set, he’s played some of his best tennis today and yet Rafa is somehow dragging him towards a decider. The world number throws everything at Nadal in this game and it is two break points to level this set. A series of forehands to the Nadal backhand eventually extracts an error and the break is made. Can Novak ride this rich vein of form to the finish line?
- Nadal 2-6 4-3 Djokovic
Djokovic hits top gear once more, unleashing a mini highlights reel to hold to love. Tense moments ahead…
- Nadal 2-6 4-2 Djokovic
After losing the first point, Rafa ghosts into the net for 15-15. Superb play tactically and technically from both men sees the game goes to deuce. From there Nadal pulls out a rare ace and goes on to hold.
- Nadal 2-6 3-2 Djokovic
Nadal is getting Djokovic’s first serves back with much better results at the moment. Two more break points and this time the Spaniard takes the latter one and assumes control in this second set. Crucial for him to consolidate it with a hold next.
- Nadal 2-6 2-2 Djokovic
Nadal has made 14 errors on his backhand wing, which is once again coming under pressure in the matchup with Djokovic. The relative weakness there also means Djokovic, when under duress, always has the option of rolling a forehand to Nadal’s backhand with a good chance of resetting the rally. Nadal though plays some immensely physical tennis to hold, much tighter second set so far.
- Nadal 2-6 1-2 Djokovic
Nevermind holding serve, Nadal goes on the attack with some truly savage hitting – whipping his forehand and not backing off the backhand either. He gains two break points but some superb play from Djokovic and a bit of impatience from Rafa sees them disappear. Novak come through for a big hold.
- Nadal 2-6 1-1 Djokovic
Now its Nadal’s turn to thump his first serve down. Rafa needs to get through the early part of this set unscarred and he starts off in ideal fashion holding to love.
- Nadal 2-6 0-1 Djokovic
One thing we know for certain at the start of this second set is that Nadal will have no thought other than to redouble his efforts. He has suffered in some lopsided sets to the Serb in the past two years but has always hung in – sometimes coming through to triumph. Djokovic serves first in this second set and has few problems holding, hitting several first serves.
- Nadal 2-6 Djokovic
First set to Djokovic!
Nadal’s feet are scurrying to his right on most points now as he runs around the ball to whack his blunderbuss topspin forehand. In doing so though he gives up quite a lot of court to his opponent and a tight game sees Djokovic at set point once more. Twice more the Serb cannot put the set to bed though but on the next one (his eighth in total) Nadal seems to take pity on him and throws in a double fault.
- Nadal 2-5 Djokovic
Now Rafa attacks the Djokovic serve and gains two break points. The Spaniard puts the first one away, it is still a long way back for this set but balance of the match has changed.
- Nadal 1-5 Djokovic
At first the Serb is rampant, feasting on the Nadal serve and wrestling control of rallies, but Rafa digs deep and saves several set points before gaining the most courageous of holds. This set is surely gone but getting on the scoreboard could be huge for Rafa’s confidence.
- Nadal 0-5 Djokovic
Novak backs up his dominant return game with strong service. Nadal can’t get into Djokovic’s first delivery and his thoughts will be turning to the second set.
- Nadal 0-4 Djokovic
Nadal responds to the early deficit by swinging hard for 30-0. His good work is undone somewhat by a double fault (second of the match) – with Djokovic ready to tee off on second serves is Rafa going for more than usual? Djokovic takes command from there and hits Nadal off court for a 4-0 lead.
- Nadal 0-3 Djokovic
This time it is Djokovic who is pushed to deuce, with Nadal raising his game. Novak finds his first serve for advantage and then wins a breathtaking point for the game. Both men are bringing quality to the match but it is the Serb who is striding ahead for now.
- Nadal 0-2 Djokovic
The opening point sees a lengthy rally ensue, Djokovic eventually dropping the ball into the net. Novak looks sharp though and the game goes to deuce. The players goes back and forth: Nadal mixes it up with a successful serve volley but can’t win the advantage point. Djokovic plays a superb succession of points to break, the world number one is looking very sharp.
- Nadal 0-1 Djokovic
A heavyweight opening service game from the world number one and he hold to 15.
- Huge cheers as play starts.
- One minute to the start, Djokovic will serve first.
- Players are hitting up… here’s a last stat attack:
Nadal has a career record of 104-51 vs Top 10 opponents and he’s 58-6 vs Top 10 on clay, winning 14 in a row on clay since losing to Djokovic at ‘11 ATP Masters 1000 Rome final. He is also 14-8 against reigning No. 1s (13-6 against Federer, 1-2 against Djokovic) and is 4-0 against reigning No. 1s in Monte Carlo (beating Federer in the 2006-07-08 finals and Djokovic last year).
- Defending champion Nadal enters the court first followed by Djokovic.
- The covers have come off the court now, play is expected to start in about 20 minutes.
- Umbrellas still up on the French Riviera, which player will deal better with this delay? Send your opinions to to me via Twitter: @Tennis_Mike_
- World No. 5 Nadal has only dropped one set all week. He has dominated this tournament, winning it the last eight years (48-1 career record) and now on a 46-match winning streak here. The 26-year-old Spaniard is playing in his 76th ATP World Tour level final (53-22 mark) and his 33rd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final (22-10). Nadal is 38-5 lifetime in clay finals, losing to three players – Djokovic and Federer (twice each) and Horacio Zeballos (once).
- Rain has delayed the start of the match for a few minutes.
- The 25-year-old Djokovic, who was extended to three sets in his first two matches, looks to have found his form after dismissing Jarkko Nieminen 64 63 on Friday and Fabio Fognini 62 61 on Saturday. This is one of only two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments he has never won, also Cincinnati, where he is a four-time runner-up. Djokovic is playing in his 56th ATP World Tour level final (36-19 record) and 24th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final (13-10 mark). Djokovic is trying to become the first player to beat Nadal three times in a clay court final.
- Nadal leads their overall head-to-head series, 19-14, and he also leads their overall clay court meetings, 12-2. This is the eighth year in a row they are playing each other, the first since the Roland Garros final last June. Djokovic won all six meetings in 2011 and Nadal won three of four last year. Overall, it’s their 34th meeting, which ties Sampras-Agassi and McEnroe-Connors for the fourth-most meetings in the Open Era.
- The players should be making there way out onto court in a few minutes, in the meantime I’ll post some stats and information to set the scene for this clash.
- It’s a dream final at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters on Sunday between World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and reigning eight-time champion, No. 3 seed Rafael Nadal. The two are meeting in the final here for the third time in five years (’09, ’12). Djokovic is looking for his first title in Monte-Carlo.
Live Commentary from the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters 2013 final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will commence here as soon as the players start warming up. The match is scheduled for Sunday 2pm Monte Carlo time.
The Spaniard leads the head to head with 19-14, having won their last three encounters, including last year’s final here at the Monte Carlo Country Club.
Nadal will be aiming to capture his 9th crown at this prestigious tournament, an astonishing achievement that might never be repeated again.
Rafa has been struggling with a knee injury for several months last year, but he is back to his best, reaching the final for the fifth time out of five tournaments he has played this year. Nole might have started this year’s tournament on a slightly lower note, but he got better each round, having demolished Fognini in the semis. Nadal booked his final ticket with a straight sets win over the Frenchman Tsonga.
Enjoy the match!
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