Miami Flashback: Novak Djokovic scores first win over Rafael Nadal

Novak Djokovic overpowered Rafael Nadal in Miami 2007 en route to the title

by Jovica Ilic
Miami Flashback: Novak Djokovic scores first win over Rafael Nadal

Novak Djokovic was a player to beat in Miami 2007, and it all started with his first victory over Rafael Nadal! Novak kicked off the season ranked 16th and only needed a little time to show his full potential. The Serb reached the Indian Wells finals and cracked the top-10 for the first time.

Rafael Nadal halted Novak in that one, but it was the other way around in Miami two weeks later. Djokovic went all the way in Florida to claim his first Masters 1000 title at 19, serving revenge over the Spaniard in the quarter-final.

It was their third meeting and the first win for Novak over Rafa, delivering a 6-3, 6-4 triumph in an hour and 37 minutes to advance into the semi-final. Djokovic performed incredibly on the second serve (taking 15 out of 20 points) and fended off four out of five break chances to keep the pressure on Nadal.

The Spaniard could not forge the same numbers behind his initial shot. He struggled on the second serve big time and got broken three times from seven chances offered to the Serb. 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.

He left Rafa behind after hitting more winners than unforced errors. After three great holds on both sides, Novak forced Rafa's mistake in the fourth game to move 3-1 in front.

Novak Djokovic scored his first victory over Rafael Nadal in Miami 2007.

The Serb gathered momentum before getting broken at 15 in the next one when his forehand landed long, bringing the Spaniard back to the positive side.

Djokovic's forehand worked much better in the next game when he forced Nadal's error to secure the second straight break and open a 4-2 gap. Unlike the last time he served, Novak delivered a hold at love with a service winner to cement the advantage, playing well and wrapping up the set with an incredible volley in the ninth game for 6-3.

Nadal survived three break chances at 1-1 in the second set to stay in touch and earned a break opportunity a few minutes later with a volley winner. Novak dismissed it with a powerful forehand and brought the game home with a volley winner to level the score at 2-2.

Nadal netted a slice backhand in the fifth game to give serve away and send the younger opponent in front. Djokovic gained a 4-2 lead with a hold at love a few minutes later and took another big step toward the finish line.

Serving for the victory at 5-4, Novak passed the most challenging test. He fended off three break chances with brave hitting and sealed the deal with an ace to notch the first triumph over Rafa and remain on the title course.

Novak Djokovic Rafael Nadal