Madrid Flashback: Novak Djokovic passes Rafael Nadal

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Madrid Flashback: Novak Djokovic passes Rafael Nadal

In Madrid 2016, world no. 1 Novak Djokovic dethroned Andy Murray 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to lift the first crown in the Spanish capital in five years. It was Novak's 64th ATP title and the record-breaking 29th Masters 1000 crown, leaving Rafael Nadal on 28.

It was the fourth clash between Novak and Andy on clay and the fourth triumph for the Serb, who claimed 12 of the last 13 encounters against world no. 2 for complete domination. Like against Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori, Novak had some problems in the encounter's closing stages.

Still, he did enough to seal the deal and secure the title. Djokovic fended off seven break chances in the final game to grab the 15th straight victory over the rivals from the top-10. Also, he extended his Masters 1000 dominance after conquering ten of the last 14 events!

Murray forced Djokovic to stay on the court for two hours and six minutes, and it was a high-intense battle between superb defenders. Fast Madrid clay allowed them to be aggressive and go for the shots, with over half of the rallies finished within four strokes.

No one had the advantage (41-40 for Novak), and the Serb prevailed 46-29 in the more extended exchanges to emerge at the top. They also had the same percentage on their first serve, and Novak used it slightly better than his rival despite Murray's ten aces.

The main problem for the Briton, as always against the Serb, was his second serve. Djokovic pushed it to the limits with his excellent return and took 15 out of 22 points. Novak finished the encounter with 25 winners and unforced errors, while Andy fired 22 winners and 33 mistakes, trying to penetrate Djokovic and make him run over the baseline.

Murray created ten break opportunities, mainly thanks to that encounter's last game. He converted two of those and suffered four breaks from six chances offered to Djokovic, another deciding factor in world no. 1's triumph.

Novak Djokovic took down Andy Murray for 29th Masters 1000 crown in Madrid 2016.

Instead of measuring their skills in the opening games, Novak made the best start. He played out of this world tennis in the first set to win it 6-2 in just half an hour!

Novak grabbed an early lead with a break in the first game after an excellent volley and never looked back, leaving the powerless Murray miles behind. Djokovic confirmed the lead with a love service game and would lose only three points on serve in the opener, offering no chances to Andy and controlling the scoreboard.

Novak earned another break in game seven with an excellent forehand winner and sealed the set in the next one. The Serb flew over the court, leaving Murray with no groundstroke winner in the first part of the clash after sending deep balls equally placed on both sides.

Andy could not find the pattern to take the longer rallies and scored only three points when the exchange would reach five strokes or more. One more fact could trouble Murray, as he never won a match versus Djokovic after losing the first set, trailing 18-0 in that department!

Murray raised his game in the second set and started playing better on the return while keeping his serve safe. After a challenging and hold after deuce, Murray broke Djokovic out of nowhere for the first time following a costly double fault from world no.

1. Andy was now 3-1 in front, and he kept the advantage until the end of the set, as both players produced five commanding holds. Andy closed the set with a classy drop shot, gathering momentum and taking pressure off his back ahead of the decider.

He had nine winners and eight unforced errors, while Novak placed five winners and 11 mistakes, having to work harder in the decider if he wanted the title. Djokovic was still the clear favorite, though, knowing how good he is in tight situations.

He broke Murray in the second game following a fantastic 23-shot rally to retake the driving seat. Nonetheless, Andy stayed focused and found a way to break back immediately after another double fault from Djokovic that brought him to the positive side of the scoreboard.

The Serb bounced back immediately, opening a 3-2 advantage with a love service game and broke Andy in the next one, which would prove to be the encounter's pivotal moment. Djokovic was soon 5-2 in front and earned the first match point in game eight on Murray's serve.

Andy responded well, saving it with an ace and holding to stay in touch, forcing Novak to serve for the title. The first 25 games of the match went on pretty quickly, with deuces in only three of those, but the last one came down to the wire as the most extending and exciting.

Murray had no less than seven break chances to completely get back into the set. Novak somehow fended them off and converted his third match point when Andy sent the ball into the net to celebrate the record-breaking Masters 1000 crown.