Miami: Djokovic d. Nadal
Novak Djokovic's comprehensive 6-3, 6-3 win over Rafael Nadal in Key Biscayne gave the Serb his fourth Miami title (and the Spaniard his fourth Miami final-round defeat), his 18th Masters title, and his second career Indian Wells-Miami double. And perhaps even more down the road:
In space of five weeks, Djokovic cuts gap on world No 1 Nadal from 4,000 points to 1,920. All to play for on the clay.— Stuart Fraser (@stu_fraser) March 30, 2014
the lat 3 times a player won both indian wells and miami, that player went on to finish #1 (the federer 2005-2006, djokovic 2011)— Tennis Tweets (@tennistweetscom) March 30, 2014
You can read my game-by-game commentary of the match in the chat replay, and quotes will be coming through the wire report. Peter Bodo will also be filing his report from Key Biscayne later this afternoon.
For now, some other interesting tweets in the aftermath of a bloodbath, at least in terms of the normally razor-thin margins that have characterized the Nadal-Djokovic rivalry for 40 matches:
Total points won Djokovic 61 Nadal 40— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) March 30, 2014
incredible stat: @DjokerNole now 35-0 in finals when winning the 1st set. Taken last 6 sets v Nadal: clay season will be Interesting!— Chris Fowler (@cbfowler) March 30, 2014
Not only do Nadal and Djokovic now hold all nine Masters titles, but Djokovic won Miami playing eight sets of tennis. Salt, wound, rub. #atp— Beyond The Baseline (@SI_BTBaseline) March 30, 2014
Today was only the 14th time in Rafa's career he failed to win 40% of points. 1st since WTF 2011, 3rd time to Novak: http://t.co/CfCnadwkf2— Jeff Sackmann (@tennisabstract) March 30, 2014
I also leave you with three questions:
1. Was this the best match Djokovic has played since 2011?
It's certainly on the short list. His performance today, an all-around gem, goes well beyond one shot, but this is one of the few times I can say that Djokovic's backhand recalled that heady season, when winners gushed from his two-hander. Fittingly, it was in Miami three years ago, where he also beat Nadal, that we started to sense a breakthrough from this very special player.
2. Was this the best match point Djokovic has won since his 2012 Australian Open classic with Wawrinka?
3. What does this month mean for Djokovic going forward?
For one, Rafa-Nole XLI, assuming it takes place on clay, will be must-see. Nadal now leads the head-to-head 22-18, but Djokovic has won their last three matches, each in straight sets. This was the most convincing of that trio; Nadal never seemed to raise his level to the requisite degree of form to handle Djokovic, who was brilliant. From serves to slices to forehands to backhands to offense to defense, it was all locked in.
It will still take a monumental effort for Djokovic to unseat Rafa at Roland Garros, which is the end game. But Djokovic is arming himself as well as he can. This win, combined with his play at Indian Wells, should further his confidence and put his pre-March "struggles" firmly in the past. His five-set loss to Nadal at last year's French Open, the net gaffe notwithstanding, was impressive and inspiring. And I still believe Boris Becker can supply Djokovic with something positive as we move into the summer months, not unlike Ivan Lendl did with Andy Murray.
It remains fascinating when these two play, and how many match-ups can we say that about after 40 viewings? Love-40, indeed.