First of all let me just say thank you to the Fedfans who are staying involved after Roger’s departure and taking part in the discussion. It is encouraging to see and I hope some of the other Fedfans can join as in due time after realizing tennis isn’t just about Roger. Like I told Veronica today, Fedfans miss out on half the fun due to their narrow minded view. If they realized that Djokovic is not the bad guy but the only reason Nadal isn’t already the GOAT, they may enjoy wacthing him pounding the player that caused Roger so much heartbreak as much as I do.
Getting the formalities out of the way before the war
I really enjoyed this match immensely. Never mind the French Open and who the favorite is there. Seeing Nadal getting utterly owned like this by a player who matches up well against him is sweet revenge for all those years that Nadal pounded Roger’s backhand into submission, again and again. Every time Djokovic defeats Nadal, no matter what the circumstances, is a triumph and release by itself. It is just delicious to see the Djoker’s masterpiece of a backhand neutralizing Nadal’s one destructive shot and rendering it powerless.
- Opening set
Djokovic quickly found himself trailing 0-2 after getting broken in the opening game. Nadal came out like a house on fire and looked like he found his old confidence. But Djokovic would have none of it. He held serve and broke Nadal back straight away after setting up break point with a delicious drop shot and lob combo, that left Nadal scampering after the ball in vain. On break point he just made the return and Nadal nervously dumped a forehand into the net. Djokovic then consolidated to love if I remember correctly.
The normal order of things had been restored with Djokovic looking very comfortable against the clay monster. At 3-3 and 30-30 on the Djoker’s serve there came one of the several unbelievable rallies in this match. Yes it was a very high quality affair. It was a long base line rally after which Djokovic hit a strong forehand down the line. Nadal ran it down and hit one of those rediculous curling forehand winners down the line. Break point. But this time the Djoker was up to the challenge as he saved break point after successfully lobbing Nadal again and hitting the overhead winner.
There was another amazing point at deuce where Djokovic ran a drop shot down from Nadal after a long rally and hit a delightful cross court angled drop shot winner. Holding serve there was big, because in the next game he broke Nadal after one of many deep returns off Nadal’s first serve which forced Nadal into an error. Djokovic’s return of serve was one of the big features of this match. It was incredible how he kept pounding them deep off Nadal’s first serve, who by the way was serving quite big himself.
Djokovic then served out the first set to 30 to take it 6-3.
- Second set
In the opening game of the second set Djokovic was threatening to run away with it as he held two break points on the Nadal serve at 40-15, but in his usual clutch way Nadal dug himself out of that hole and held serve. In the next game where Djokovic held serve to love he did another drop shot and lob combo which left Nadal scampering to the base line again and missing the following shot. That is a play I really enjoy seeing. It looks like Djokovic is toying with Nadal when he does that and I bet Nadal just loves it!
And at 1-2 and 40-0 on his serve Djokovic hit yet another drop shot and lob combo. This time Nadal jumped and tried to hit the backhand smash but it bounced before the net! I almost felt sorry for the guy. OK just kidding. At 2-3 and 30-30 with Djokovic serving there came another one of those big points. Another long base line rally ensued with Djokovic drawing Nadal out wide on the ad court and approaching down the line with that masterful backhand of his.
Nadal as usual made it as hard as possible for Djokovic with the next shot but Djokovic calmly put away a textbook volley cross court. Now that is something his coach Becker would have liked. Djokovic held serve and that is when the big game was played. At 3-3 Nadal raced to 40-0 but Djokovic reeled him in to the point where he had a break point. Nadal was already going crazy with fist pumps in the previous game to try and unnerve Djokovic and psyche himself up.
The match point and celebration was highly enjoyable
But on the break point he played a defensive point as good as any I’ve seen from him and he erupted in a fist pump unlike any other. Djokovic’s reaction to that point was key I thought. I kind of expected him to be frustrated or surprised, but he just smiled it off and proceeded to break anyway. That was the most impressive thing about Djokovic today probably, his calmness and composure. He just looked in total control all the way, no matter what Nadal threw at him.
He played perfect tennis with a calm and confidence I probably only saw from him in 2011. He then held serve without much trouble I think and even broke Nadal at 5-3 as Nadal was trying to at least make him serve it out. That was a good message he sent to Nadal I thought. It made the difference between a straight set win and a good old spanking. It’s the kind of message he’d want to send Nadal if he has any chance of stopping Nadal in Paris this time. Usually I would have said Djokovic still had no chance to win the French.
But this win convinced me that the Djokovic of 2011 is back, and again credit to our oracle Veronica for calling it. The power, control, and composure he is playing with out there is just unreal. The only player who was ever capable of a higher level is Roger. You are welcome Fedfans. And yes his serve is still improved and also helped with this victory. Even his net game is improved and he didn’t miss a single overhead today I think. And there were quite a few. Nadal made sure he tested that area.
- In conclusion
Djokovic is becoming more and more complete as a player and it does look an awful lot like the 2011 Djokovic is back. Veronica said he may be even better because he is more mature and complete now. The winning streak in 2011 was unreal but who knows where he can go from here. I do think if this version continues he would have a chance against Nadal at the French. I had a strong feeling that he would beat Nadal in the 2011 French Open final but then of course Roger prevented that.
The losses the Djoker suffered to Nadal at the French since then won’t help if they face in Paris again this year, but if he plays like today no one would be so stupid as to give him no chance at all. But there is a long way to go before then and much can happen. But Djokovic did what he wanted to do in Monte Carlo. He unceremoniously dumped Nadal out of the tournament after Nadal looked like he was seriously starting to threaten again. That said, Nadal would still feel good about his week.
More attacking tennis from Djokovic won the day
I’m sure he will win Barcelona but who knows. Djokovic will take a much deserved two week break now after which he will come back refreshed to try and kick Nadal’s ass some more in Madrid and Rome. Surely if he keeps beating Nadal time after time it will have an effect on him in slams too. I thought that was what would happen in 2011 after he schooled Nadal in Madrid and Rome, but then Roger spoiled the party in Paris like I said. I think Djokovic is fairly deep in his head again after winning 5 of the last 6 meetings(and 13 of the last 20).
He just has to build on that in Madrid and Rome. And personally I am very much looking forward to those events. As for the final tomorrow you would expect Djokovic to win the title as he leads the head-to-head a staggering 18-2 vs Birdshit. But the main thing is that Nadal was prevented from winning yet another Monte Carlo title which would have been awfully boring. At least Djokovic already cost Nadal several clay Masters titles(4 + Monte Carlo). Now he just needs to translate that into a clay slam and we will finally have been delivered from the reign of terror.
Epic match point and celebration:
The is in your court.