Sunday, March 30, 2014

2014 KEY BISCAYNE: Nole Wins Djokovic-Nadal XL, 43rd ATP Title

As I predicted on Friday, World #2 Novak Djokovic denied World #1 Rafael Nadal his chance to finally win the Miami Masters, by besting him 6-3 6-3 in a match that was never close after Djokovic survived his first (and only) breakpoint in the first game. This was the record 40th meeting between the 6-time major champion and 13-time major champion, with Nadal now leading the head-to-head 22-18 but with Djokovic having won their last three meetings and he is ahead 11-9 in finals and 14-7 on hard courts. The Djokovic-Nadal rivalry is starting to outclass (and outlast) the more celebrated Federer-Nadal rivalry since Nadal is dominating that one 23-10.

Djokovic won Indian Wells two weeks ago (by coming back from behind to nip Roger Federer in a  3rd set tiebreak) and becomes the second man to win the Indian Wells-Key Biscayne double twice in his career, following in the footsteps of  Federer who accomplished the task in 2005 and 2006. Djokovic has now done it in 2011 and 2014. In fact,  Djokovic is on  20-match winning streak at ATP Masters events, having won his last four Masters events: Shanghai 2013, Paris 2013, Indian Wells 2014 and Key Biscayne 2014. (He also won the Year-Ending World Tour Finals in 2013 and 2012 as well.) He has now won 43 ATP tour titles (out of 64 finals) and is now in 3rd place on the all-time list with 18 Masters shields, behind Federer (21) and Nadal (26). He has won Miami 4 times while Nadal has lost in the final 4 times.

The 4000-point lead Nadal had over World #2 Djokovic is going to be less than 1200 points starting on Monday and Nadal will have more points than Djokovic to defend for the rest of the year. The previous times someone one the Indian Wells-Miami double, that player ended the year at World #1.

Incredibly, either Nadal or Djokovic is now the reigning champion in all 9 of the top tier ATP Masters shield events, with Djokovic holding 5 crowns (Indian Wells, Miami, Shanghai, Paris and Monte Carlo) and Nadal 4 crowns (Madrid, Rome, Cincinnati and Canada).

Now the action switches to clay court tennis. I strongly believe this will be the year that Djokovic will finally complete the career slam by winning Roland Garros, whether he has to play Nadal or not!

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