Novak Djokovic after first victory over Rafael Nadal: 'This is my finest triumph'



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Novak Djokovic after first victory over Rafael Nadal: 'This is my finest triumph'

Since Roland Garros 2006, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have met 58 times in the official matches, pushing each other to the limits and fighting for the most notable tennis trophies. Two great rivals played twice within a couple of weeks in May and June, with Nadal beating Djokovic in the Rome final and the Serb serving revenge in the Roland Garros semis.

Djokovic has had the edge over Nadal since 2013, ousting the Spaniard no less than 30 times and 15 in the last 21 encounters! Novak's first victory over Rafa came in Miami 2007, his first tournament as a top-10 player!

Nadal bested Djokovic in Indian Wells two weeks earlier, and Novak was ready to turn the tables in Florida, scoring a 6-3, 6-4 triumph in an hour and 37 minutes for a place in the semis. The Serb played incredibly well on the second serve, taking 15 out of 20 points and fending off four out of five break chances to keep Nadal under pressure.

Unlike in Indian Wells, Rafa could not follow the rival's pace behind the initial shot, struggling on the second serve and getting broken three times from seven chances offered to Novak. They stayed neck and neck in the shortest rallies up to four strokes, and Djokovic had the upper hand in the mid-range and more extended exchanges, leaving Nadal behind after hitting more winners than unforced errors.

After three great holds on both sides, Novak forced Rafa's mistake to move 3-1 in front. Djokovic suffered a break at 15 a few minutes later when his forehand landed long to bring the Spaniard back to the positive side of the scoreboard.

Novak's forehand worked much better in the next game and forced another Rafa's error to secure the second straight break and move 4-2 ahead.

Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal for the first time in the 2007 Miami quarter-final.

Novak delivered a hold at love with a service winner to cement the advantage and wrapped up the set with an incredible volley in the ninth game for 6-3.

In the second set's third game, Nadal survived three break chances to stay in touch and earned a break opportunity in the next one with a volley winner. Djokovic dismissed it with a powerful forehand and leveled the score at 2-2 with a volley winner.

Nadal netted a slice backhand in the fifth game to experience a break, sending the younger opponent in front and allowing Djokovic to gain a 4-2 lead with a hold at love. Serving for the victory at 5-4, Novak passed the most challenging test, fending off three break chances with brave hitting and sealing the deal with an ace to notch the first triumph over Nadal.

"This is the most significant victory of my career. Rafael Nadal is the best player I have ever beaten. I learned many things from the Indian Wells final; my serve was bad in that one, together with a backhand and return.

Rafa used those opportunities, as you expect from world no. 2. I was motivated today, having nothing to lose. In the last couple of months, my results have been great. I'm in great shape, feeling confident on the court. My serve worked like a charm, and that's a positive thing for the future.

Competing against world no. 2 in the Masters 1000 quarter-final is not easy, and I got a bit nervous while serving for the match. I missed some shots, but I still played on a high level and stayed away from the errors that Rafa was waiting for," said Novak Djokovic.