When Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic almost played doubles together
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 4479
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic developed an impressive rivalry between Roland Garros 2006 and Cincinnati 2009, playing 19 matches on the Tour. Standing at the top alongside Roger Federer for a couple of years, Nadal and Djokovic had developed fearsome rivalry despite a 14-5 lead for the Spaniard, and they were thinking about playing on the same side of the court.
Rafa and Novak fought in the 2009 Cincinnati semi-final, and they should have played the doubles together. At the last moment, Nadal decided to skip the doubles and focus on his singles campaign after staying away from the court for two months due to knee issues.
Dealing with tendonitis, Nadal suffered the fourth-round loss at Roland Garros to Robin Soderling in four sets, experiencing the first defeat in Paris and missing the upcoming Wimbledon. Returning to the court in Montreal, Rafa beat David Ferrer and Philipp Petzschner to reach the quarters, losing it to Juan Martin del Potro 7-6, 6-1 after losing ground in set number two.
The Spaniard went to Cincinnati and prevailed over Andreas Seppi in the opening round before toppling Paul-Henri Mathieu and Tomas Berdych to find himself in the semis. Despite a reliable performance against the Czech, Nadal's level was not enough to challenge Novak Djokovic in a battle for the final, losing against the Serb in the same round like a year ago.
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal planned to play the doubles in Cincinnati 2009.
Djokovic sailed past Nadal 6-1, 6-4 in an hour and 32 minutes, playing on a high level from start to finish to end the losing streak against the Spaniard and remain on the title course.
Novak was the more aggressive player, and he forged the lead in the shortest range up to four strokes. The Serb saved the only break point and delivered three return games to control the scoreboard and move into the second consecutive Cincinnati final.
Djokovic was a player on the mission in the opener, securing two breaks for a commanding 6-1 and breaking Rafa once again in the second to move over the top and set another thrilling clash against Roger Federer. "It's true; Rafa and I should have played the doubles here in Cincinnati.
Unfortunately, Rafa was not ready physically to play singles and doubles, so he opted to compete in singles alone. Maybe we will get another chance to play together in the future," Novak Djokovic said.