'Nobody knows how it was to be Novak Djokovic', says former ace
by SIMONE BRUGNOLI | VIEW 2449
After suffering a knee injury in 2009, Rafael Nadal made a perfect comeback a year later. The Spaniard won three Majors and three Masters 1000s in 2010 to regain the ATP throne. Novak Djokovic became the Davis Cup champion for Serbia at the end of the season and overcame his health problems to become Nadal's biggest rival in 2011, winning no less than six finals!
Entering the season with seven wins over Rafa, Novak switched gears and knocked the Spaniard down in four Masters 1000 finals and at the Wimbledon Majors and US Open, becoming world number 1 and declaring his dominance in the next decade.
Djokovic toppled Nadal in title matches in Indian Wells and Miami, and Rafa hoped to regain his composure on his beloved clay, winning Monte Carlo and Barcelona. Even so, the Serb was an unsolved enigma for the Spaniard that year, beating him in straight sets in the Madrid and Rome finals to provoke obvious frustration in the king of clay.
Nadal went into Roland Garros with no room for error and survived a nightmare against John Isner in the first round, prevailing in five sets and finding at least some kind of rhythm in the following matches to reach the quarterfinals.
He outplayed Robin Soderling and Andy Murray to advance to the sixth title match in Paris. Rafa was prepared for another tough encounter against Novak, but that was not the case for the Serb that year at Roland Garros, suffering the first loss of the season in the semi-final against Roger Federer.
Correct as always, Nadal admitted that it would have been difficult to beat Novak in a potential title match. Instead, he faced Federer and prevailed in four sets after more than three and a half hours of grueling tennis. Nadal would lose to Djokovic in the final of the next three Majors, missing out on the chance to add more trophies to his tally and finally beat an in-form rival, who was ready to challenge him and Federer in the GOAT race.
Djokovic is a true legend
Novak Djokovic ended his 2022 season on a high, recapturing the ATP Finals crown after a long gap of seven years. "He's practicing even harder than he was at 22," Ivanisevic said. "That's why he's still so good.
You know, the will to practice to improve, the will to be better is amazing. He's taking care of his body." Showering praise on his charge, Ivanisevic said Djoker fully deserved the win. "Because of everything that happened this year, with Wimbledon this year, but this one [ATP title] is special," Ivanisevic said.
"The very tough year and then to finish the year like this and to win tournament like this after seven years. I think somebody from up there looking at all of this and saying, 'Okay, you're gonna finish the year like this,' and he deserves it. Nobody knows how it was to be him," Ivanisevic stated.