Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were the opponents in the 2009 Monte Carlo Masters final. Nadal scored a 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 victory after grueling two hours and 43 minutes for his fifth consecutive crown in the Principality. Rafa saved six out of 11 break chances and seized seven return opportunities to control the scoreboard in sets one and three.
Rafa beat Novak for the seventh time in as many encounters on clay, although he had to work hard to remain perfect against the Serb on the slowest surface. They embraced over 40 exchanges with ten strokes or more and fought for almost three hours despite playing 24 games.
Novak stayed in touch with Rafa in the most demanding exchanges, showing his fantastic court coverage and groundstrokes of the highest order that always demanded an extra shot from Nadal. The Spaniard forged the advantage in the shortest and mid-range rallies and still had to give his best to emerge as a winner.
Nadal needed almost an hour to grab the final set despite just seven games on the scoreboard! Novak tried an aggressive approach, rushing to the net and imposing his shots. Still, he drew almost 50 unforced errors that plagued his chances.
Nadal lost ground in the second set and bounced back in the decider, eager to chase the fifth consecutive crown in the Principality. The Spaniard had the upper hand at the start of the third set and brought the victory home with reliable performance.
Praising his rival, Nadal called Djokovic a formidable rival on every surface and the one who always gives his best.
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic met in the 2009 Monte Carlo final.
"I started playing well after trailing 3-1, winning five games in a row.
I had my chances at the beginning of the second set but did not use them. After that, I struggled with my serve and could not do much. I came back in the third set's early stages and played well to emerge at the top. I was focused, despite some errors.
I felt fine physically and mentally in the third, landing some passing shots and making fewer mistakes. I need to start the clay season with a win; it's good for my confidence. I never expected to claim five Monte Carlo titles; it's one of the most important events, and some of the world's best players have played here over the years.
Novak is an excellent player on every surface and among the world's best clay-courters. Playing against him is never easy, and today was no exception," Rafael Nadal said.