The Madrid Open was the fourth Masters 1000 tournament on the ATP calendar in 2011, and Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal were the finalists for the third time. After winning the Davis Cup title in late 2010, Novak was set to take the tennis world by storm in the first half of the following season, winning the sixth title in Madrid and improving his perfect score to 32-0!
As in Indian Wells and Miami, Djokovic outclassed Rafael Nadal to lift another Masters 1000 trophy. Novak defeated a great rival 7-5 6-4 in a grueling two hours and 18 minutes after dominating Rafa from the baseline with perfect groundstrokes.
Both players had to struggle in the semi-final encounters against Roger Federer and Thomaz Bellucci, doing enough to set up another remarkable final after outplaying everyone else in the first five months of 2011. Novak made the difference with the first and second serves.
He controlled the scoring with a display of solid return, stealing nearly half the points in Rafa's games and earning five breaks from 12 chances. The Spaniard delivered three breaks, and it wasn't enough to keep him safe and defend the title.
Nadal stayed in touch with Djokovic on the shorter points. The Serb carved out the advantage in the longer and more dynamic rallies, covering the track beautifully on both flanks and engineering points more efficiently, especially in the closing stages of both sets.
Hitting the ball on the rise, Novak played from inside the baseline as much as possible. He took time away from Nadal's shots to break the rival's rhythm and impose his shots in exchanges. Also, Djokovic's balls had much more depth than Nadal's, forcing the Spaniard to play from awkward positions and make more mistakes.
Novak held on in the first game after saving two break chances. In the second game, he forced Rafa's mistake to build an early lead that gave him confidence.
Djokovic will play the French Open and Wimbledon
Novak Djokovic pointed out that Roger Federer would be the only big name missing from Roland Garros.
"Grand Slams are the ones that are historically always counted the most, of course. So having both of us and all the other best players in the world is great. Probably Roger is the only one from the big names that is missing," he said.
"It's always a big blow for the tournament if you don't have one of the biggest names in the sport, but it's always beneficial if you do. I guess it's logical," he added. The World No. 1 stated that he recovered well following his grueling semi-final encounter against Carlos Alcaraz in Madrid, which was a positive sign ahead of the French Open.
"Felt physically hundred percent, even after almost three-and-a-half-hour battle against Alcaraz," he said. "I recovered well the next day, was ready to go. That's a positive and encouraging factor prior to Rome and also, of course, the big goal which is Paris."