Doha Flashback: Novak Djokovic destroys Rafael Nadal in 73 minutes

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Doha Flashback: Novak Djokovic destroys Rafael Nadal in 73 minutes

Like many times before, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal were the top-10 players at the end of 2015. Still, there was a light-year between two great rivals, as Novak claimed ten notables titles in one of the greatest seasons in the Open era, while Rafa stayed on three smaller trophies, barely enough to keep himself in the elite ten.

Struggling with injuries, Nadal was without the hard-court ATP title since Doha 2014, earning a chance to fight for another crown at this event at the beginning of 2016. The Spaniard didn't play on the highest level but still did enough to oust four rivals from outside the top-60 and reach the title match.

The problem was, Novak Djokovic stood on the other side of the net in the battle for the trophy, motivated to continue where he left at the ATP Finals last November and extend his incredible streak. It was their tenth match following the 2013 US Open final and the ninth victory for Novak, who had the upper hand against Rafa in those years.

Djokovic scored four wins over Nadal in 2015 and gave the rival no chance in Doha at the beginning of the new season, toppling Nadal 6-1, 6-2 in 73 minutes! Serving at 75%, the Serb lost ten points in eight service games, fending off the only break chance and mounting the pressure on the other side of the net.

Nadal was far from those numbers, dropping over half of the initial shot points and getting broken four times to propel Djokovic towards the trophy.

Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in Doha 2016.

Determined to control the pace, Novak fired 30 winners and forced almost 20 mistakes from Rafa, taming his strokes beautifully to sail towards the title in style.

Interestingly, Nadal's only break chance came in the opening game following a loose forehand from Djokovic, who saved it with a forehand winner to avoid an early setback. The Serb forced an error from his opponent to grab a break at 15 and held with a service winner to move 3-0 ahead.

Nadal placed a forehand down the line winner in the fourth game to get his name on the scoreboard before Djokovic landed another service winner that sent him 4-1 up. World no. 1 painted a backhand crosscourt winner for another break and a 5-1 advantage and closed the opener with four winners in the next game after 31 minutes!

Rafa saved two break points at the beginning of the second set, but Novak converted the third to continue where he left in the opener. Djokovic landed another forehand winner in game four to remain in front and won an extended rally with a smash winner in the next one to move 4-1 ahead.

Serving at 1-5, Rafa held to prolong the encounter, but only for a couple of minutes, as Novak held at 15 in game seven to seal the deal and celebrate his first Doah crown.