Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic met four times on clay within just over two months in 2009. The Serb gave his everything to topple the Spaniard on his favorite surface. However, he left empty-handed in the Davis Cup, Monte Carlo, Rome and Madrid despite a valiant effort, giving his best but failing to topple the king of clay.
Nadal claimed three titles in back-to-back weeks, beating Djokovic in two finals and setting the semi-final clash against the Serb in Madrid. Eager to overpower the world's leading player for the first time on the slowest surface, Novak gives his 120% in a 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 loss after an epic four hours and three minutes, wasting three match points and propelling exhausted Rafa into the title clash.
Mighty disappointed, Djokovic admitted he gave his everything in this one, standing so close to the finish line and still ending on the losing side. The Serb was unsure what to do to beat Rafa on clay, considering playing with two racquets the next time he creates match points against the Spaniard!
Novak claimed five points more than Rafa, hit more winners and fewer unforced errors, had the upper hand in the most extended rallies and got broken only once, but still not doing enough to best the king of clay in front of his partisan crowd.
Nadal stood powerless on the return in the opening set and fended off a break chance at 1-1 in the second set to stay alive.
Novak Djokovic wasted three match points against Rafael Nadal in Madrid 2009.
In another pivotal moment, Djokovic squandered two break chances at 4-4 that could have sent him closer to the finish line and another at 5-5.
In the end, Nadal prevailed with a single mini-break in the tie break to force a decider and extend his chances. Novak forged a 3-1 advantage in the final set before losing serve in game five to keep the rival in contention.
They reached the tie break, and Djokovic squandered match points at 6-5, 7-6 and 9-8 after Nadal's brave hitting, and the Spaniard prevailed 11-9 to earn a massive victory and advance into the final. "I'm very disappointed that I can play this well and still not win a match.
I think that I've played my best tennis on this surface. A couple of points decided the winner. I'm taking positives from the last couple of matches we've played on this surface, and the positives are that I'm one point away from the victory.
I don't know; next time, I'll probably take two racquets on the match point. I don't know what to do," Novak Djokovic said.