Madrid Flashback: Novak Djokovic reaches final after many years



by JOVICA ILIC

Madrid Flashback: Novak Djokovic reaches final after many years

Novak Djokovic reached his first Madrid Masters final in Caja Magica after five years in 2016. Novak conquered Madrid over Rafael Nadal in 2011 before experiencing early losses in 2012 and 2013. The Serb did not play in the Spanish capital in 2014 and 2015 and returned stronger in 2016 as one of the title contenders.

Novak toppled the young Croat Borna Coric and Roberto Bautista Agut in straight sets to advance into the quarter-final. Djokovic defeated Milos Raonic to find himself in the last four. Seeking a place in the first Madrid final since 2011, Djokovic ousted Kei Nishikori 6-3, 7-6 in just under two hours to remain on the title course.

It was their tenth meeting and the eighth triumph for the Serb, the seventh in a row after that 2014 US Open defeat. Novak ousted one of the most consistent players at Caja Magica in the last couple of years and earned a chance to play for the record-breaking 29th Masters 1000 title against Andy Murray.

Novak Djokovic defeated Kei Nishikori in the 2016 Madrid Open semi-final.

They both had more winners than unforced errors, and Novak forged his triumph in the forced errors department. He had the upper hand in the shortest exchanges up to four strokes and delivered better tennis when it mattered the most to seal the deal in straight sets.

Nishikori toppled world no. 1 in the most extended exchanges. However, it was not enough to keep him safe, converting one out of five break chances and giving serve away two times to propel Novak into the title clash. Three of those Kei's five return opportunities came in the encounter's first game.

Novak denied them and avoided an early setback. Djokovic earned a break at 4-3 when Nishikori sent a forehand long and secured the opener with a hold at 30 for 6-3 after 40 minutes. The Japanese fended off two break chances at the beginning of the second set.

Kei repelled two more at 2-2 with winners before Novak landed a backhand winner to secure a break and open a set and a break advantage. The former champion saved a break point at 4-3 with a forehand winner to remain in front and served for the win at 5-4.

Kei stayed focused and defended four match points to pull the break back and prolong the encounter. The set went into a tie break, and Djokovic won it 7-4 to move over the top after some scary moments in the closing stages.

Novak Djokovic Madrid Masters