Monte Carlo Flashback: Rafael Nadal falls to Novak Djokovic and ends his streak 



by   |  VIEW 4061

Monte Carlo Flashback: Rafael Nadal falls to Novak Djokovic and ends his streak 

A left knee injury had forced Rafael Nadal to miss the second part of the 2012 season before he bounced back stronger in 2013. Rafa won ten titles that year, including two Majors and five Masters 1000 events to become the year-end no.

1 player for the first time in three years. Nadal returned in Vina del Mar in February, where he lost to Horacio Zeballos in a close final. The Spaniard claimed back-to-back titles in Sao Paulo, Acapulco and Indian Wells, rattling off 18 wins and advancing into the Monte Carlo final.

Rafa made a debut in the Principality ten years ago and had been beaten only once by Guillermo Coria that year, still at 16! Starting from 2005, Nadal had won 46 consecutive matches and eight titles in Monte Carlo. The streak came to its end when Novak Djokovic took him down in the 2013 final.

The Serb defeated the Spaniard 6-2, 7-6 in an hour and 52 minutes on April 21 for his first trophy at this tournament. It was their 34th meeting and the first since Roland Garros last June. Novak scored the third win on clay over Rafa and avenged the last year's defeat when he took only four games!

Djokovic did not make a great start in Monte Carlo, coming from a set down against Mikhail Youzhny and Juan Monaco. Nonetheless, the Serb defeated both rivals and had a more straightforward job against Jarkko Nieminen and Fabio Fognini to reach the title match.

Novak delivered his A-game on the return against Rafa to end his incredible streak in Monte Carlo. Nadal broke Djokovic three times, which was insufficient for a more favorable result. He lost serve five times from 12 break chances offered to the Serb and struggled to find the rhythm behind the initial shot despite landing 72% of the first serve in.

In 2013, Novak Djokovic ended Rafael Nadal's Monte Carlo streak to steal title.

Nothing could separate them in the shortest rallies, and Novak forged the difference in the mid-range and more extended exchanges. He controlled the pace from the baseline and overpowered Nadal with his deep and precise groundstrokes that the Spaniard found no answer for, especially in the opening set.

Djokovic made the best start and broke in game two when Nadal wasted a few game points. Novak held a few minutes later after deuce to open a 3-0 lead. Rafa struggled to find the pace, and Novak created another break chance in the fourth game with a crosscourt backhand winner.

He converted it when the defending champion netted a backhand and opened a massive 5-0 lead in 25 minutes with an ace in the next one. The Spaniard faced five set points in game six, working hard to avoid an embarrassing bagel and gathering some boost.

Djokovic netted an easy forehand to drop serve in game seven and allowed Nadal to reduce the deficit to 5-2. The momentum did not stay on Rafa's side for too long, though, as he hit a double fault in game eight to drop serve for the third time and hand the opening set to Novak 6-2 after 46 minutes.

Djokovic saved two break opportunities in the second set's third game to remain in front. He sprayed a backhand error to get broken the next time around and trailed for the first time in the entire encounter. Nadal held with a service winner to gain a 4-2 lead before Novak won eight of the following nine points for a smooth service game and a break in game eight when Nadal's backhand landed long.

The Spaniard had a chance to send the match into a decider when he broke at 5-5, but it was not to be for him. Novak erased the deficit with a break at love in game 12 thanks to a backhand winner and arranged a tie break. Rafa made an unforced error to lose a point on serve early on and placed another groundstroke long to find himself 4-1 down.

Nothing worked for the Spaniard, and Djokovic wrapped up the triumph with a forehand winner at 6-1 for his first victory in three Monte Carlo finals against the great rival. It was the 14th Masters 1000 crown for the Serb and the eighth different trophy from the premium ATP series, missing only Cincinnati to complete the Career Golden Masters, something he would achieve five years later.