The “King of Clay” was bested on his favorite surface, as Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in straight sets at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. Defeating Nadal, 6-3 6-3 on Saturday, the No.1 player in the world advances to take on Tomas Berdych in the finals.
"I'm very happy with how I played against such a tough opponent," said Djokovic. "Rafa is the all-time best on the clay, it was not an easy match.
"I played well, it was a relief to get this win. There was a lot of tension, it was tough to keep it all under control.”
The turning point of the match came in the second set at 3-3. Nadal and Djokovic battled for 11 minutes, and the Spaniard was unable to hold onto a 40-0 lead. Djokovic went on to win the next two games to close out the match.
Nadal hasn’t played like an elite player in 2015, winning just one tournament and suffering multiple losses to underwhelming competition. He made his return to clay at Monte Carlo as he prepares for the 2015 French Open next month. But after topping David Ferrer in a quarterfinal match that lasted nearly three hours, he didn’t have enough to get by Djokovic.
While he’s leaving the tournament without a title, Nadal’s performance at Monte Carlo could be considered an encouraging sign. His win against Ferrer was his best of the year. Nadal won the Monte Carlo Masters each year from 2005 to 2o12.
Djokovic has won 16 matches in a row. He’s looking to win his second title at the event, having beaten Nadal in the finals two years ago. Prior to Saturday’s match, Nadal had a career record of 14-4 against Djokovic on clay.