Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic made a winning start at the 2010 ATP Finals. Two rivals met for the 23rd time in the second round-robin match, and the Spaniard earned a 7-5, 6-2 triumph in an hour and 52 minutes. Thus, Rafa beat Novak for the 16th time and maintained a perfect score in London.
Djokovic played well in the first encounter against Berdych and made a great start against Nadal. Still, the Serb experienced right eye irritation in the eighth game, taking a medical time out and changing his contact lenses several times.
Despite his efforts, Novak could not improve his sight, playing the second set almost with one eye and never standing a chance against such a strong opponent. Novak's timeout outside the court took seven minutes, and Rafa said nothing while waiting for his opponent to return to the court.
Nonetheless, the Spaniard got asked to speed up a bit while serving when the action resumed, and he argued with the chair umpire about that. After the match, Rafa explained that he had nothing against Novak's extended timeout.
Still, it did not feel right for him when the referee rushed him after missing out to serve in time for two or three seconds. Nadal saved four out of five break chances and took 43% of the return points. He delivered four breaks to seal the deal in straight sets and beat Djokovic for the second time that season.
Novak sprayed 30 unforced mistakes after failing to control his strokes. He lost ground from the opening set's closing stages and went for all-or-nothing strokes as the only option. Nadal grabbed the first break at 2-2 in the first set after an entertaining point at the net before losing serve in the next one and wasting two break points in game seven.
Novak Djokovic dealt with eye irritation vs. Rafael Nadal in London 2010.
Novak started to feel the problems with his eye in the eighth game and left the court while trying to find a solution. The Serb served well in the ninth game before spraying a backhand mistake at 5-5 to hand the break to his opponent.
Nadal erased three break chances and claimed it after grueling 75 minutes. Novak tried to resolve the problems ahead of the second set, but they only worsened. He lost serve in games one and three and sent Rafa 3-0 in front. Nadal held at 30 in game six with a smash winner to control the scoreboard before emerging at the top with a service winner at 5-2.
"The umpire told me I had to be faster between the points. I think the medical timeout is three minutes, and Novak stayed away from the court for seven. No hard feelings, though, as I have an excellent relationship with him.
I waited for Novak for seven minutes, which was not a problem, and the umpire warned me about being a couple of seconds late while serving. I wanted to discuss that with him, as he pressured me to take less time between serves.
I'm not against the rules, and I know I have to be faster as I'm often late on serve. I think the situation was different today. I waited a lot, and the umpire could not tell me in the next game that I had to be faster, as I waited for Novak twice," Rafael Nadal said.