World number one Novak Djokovic has ended the rein of Rafael Nadal in Monte Carlo, taking out the final of the Masters event in straight-sets to claim his 37th career title. The Serbian was too powerful and consistent for the clay court champion, with the win coming in just under two hours.
Djokovic was no certainty to even participate in the event as he has been struggling to overcome an ankle injury but fought through the pain to claim a convincing 6-2 7-6 (7-1) victory. The win racking up his 14th career Masters title.
The victory brings to an end Nadal’s incredible winning streak at the clay court event, where he had won the last eight titles and 46 matches in succession. It will also provide Djokovic with a huge mental boost ahead of next month’s French Open, where the Spaniard is a seven-time champion.
“If somebody told me 10 days ago I’d be spielautomaten winning the trophy, I wouldn't think it’s so realistic, to be honest. I went through pain, I went through a big challenge, mentally, physically, emotionally and in the end it was getting better as the tournament was going on. I can't ask for a better start to the clay season,” exclaimed the Australian Open champion.
The win serves as great preparation for May’s French Open, where Djokovic will be hoping he can repeat his efforts as he seeks to claim his maiden title at Roland Garos and complete a career grand slam.
Conversely question marks will be raised as to whether Nadal can recapture the form that saw him hold the mantle as the world’s best player. Once the undisputed king of clay, the Spaniard has now dropped to fifth in the world-rankings following a seven month injury lay-off.
However, Nadal can take comfort from the fact that since returning to the men’s circuit from a knee injury in February he had reached five straight finals. He has also won seven of the past eight French Open titles and will surely be seeking to atone for this loss in Paris.
It all points to an exciting tournament next month as the “fab-four” of Djokovic, Federer, Murray and Nadal all contest a grand slam event for the first time in nearly a year. We’ll have all the action for you at Strathfield Sports Club as we wait to see who will assert themselves as the clay champion.