Novak Djokovic after Rafael Nadal thriller: 'I played my best tennis and still lost'

Tennis - Nadal prevailed over Djokovic in over four hours in Madrid 2009

by Jovica Ilic
Novak Djokovic after Rafael Nadal thriller: 'I played my best tennis and still lost'

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 for the first time. 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.

Djokovic squandered three match points and propelled exhausted Rafa into the title clash. Mighty disappointed, Novak admitted he gave everything to emerge at the top, standing close to the finish line and 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! 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.

However, he missed the finishing touch to topple the king of clay and remain on the title course. 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.

Djokovic squandered two break chances at 4-4 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 another tie break, and Djokovic squandered match points at 6-5, 7-6 and 9-8 after Nadal's brave hitting. The Spaniard found an extra gear in front of his partisan crowd and prevailed 11-9 for one of his most notable victories on clay.

"I'm very disappointed about playing this well and still not winning the match. I think this was my best tennis ever on clay. A couple of points decided the winner. I'm taking positives from the last couple of matches we have played on this surface and being one point away from victory. I do not know; next time, I will probably take two racquets when I create a match point," Novak Djokovic said.

Novak Djokovic Rafael Nadal