Nadal beats Djokovic to win Monte Carlo final
(AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
By JEROME PUGMIRE
AP Sports Writer
MONACO (AP) Rafael Nadal finally managed to beat Novak Djokovic in a final, thrashing the top-ranked Serb 6-3, 6-1 on Sunday to win the clay-court Monte Carlo Masters for the eighth consecutive year and end a run of seven straight defeats to his rival in title matches.
Nadal was hardly troubled by Djokovic this time and broke the Serb's serve five times in a one-sided matchup.
He thrust his hands in the air after clinching victory in style with an ace that flew past the beleaguered Djokovic, who beat Nadal in an epic Australian Open final this year.
"Congratulations, you deserved to win for how you played this week," Djokovic told Nadal on court after the match.
Nadal had promised to be aggressive and, after Djokovic held in his first service game at love, the Spaniard was relentless in running the Serb all over the court. It was his first title since last year's French Open. He has won 42 straight matches in Monte Carlo.
Djokovic, who has been playing through grief since the death of his grandfather Thursday, struggled to find a rhythm, making 25 unforced errors to just 11 winners. Nadal, meanwhile, timed most of his shots to perfection and pushed Djokovic further and further back.
The breezy conditions seemed to bother Djokovic more than they did Nadal, although the swirling winds were not as intense as Saturday.
Nadal, the 10-time Grand Slam champion, found his range quickly and broke Djokovic in the third game when the Serb's backhand went wide.
Nadal now leads their head-to-head series 17-14, but it was his first win against Djokovic since an early match at the 2010 ATP Finals in London. Nadal has not lost in Monte Carlo since 2003 - he was injured the following year.
Nadal broke Djokovic again in the second game of the second set, then he held serve at love to take a 3-0 lead.
That was soon 4-0 as Nadal won a long rally on break point. Djokovic looked to have won it with a big forehand, but Nadal somehow managed to lob Djokovic while fully stretched out. The ball landed right at the top of the court, surprising Djokovic, whose hurried return set up nicely for Nadal to whack another brutal forehand winner.
Although Djokovic broke right back, any thought of a comeback was snuffed out by Nadal when he broke Djokovic at love.
Updated April 22, 2012