Young Novak Djokovic: 'I can match Rafael Nadal in the future'

Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic in the 2007 Indian Wells final

by Jovica Ilic
Young Novak Djokovic: 'I can match Rafael Nadal in the future'

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic reached the title clash at the season's first Masters 1000 event in Indian Wells 2007. Two young guns battled past all the opponents to arrange their second meeting on the Tour and the first in the final.

Novak made an impressive start to the season, winning the title in Adelaide and losing to world no. 1 Roger Federer in Melbourne and Dubai. Heading to Indian Wells, the Serb toppled David Ferrer and Andy Murray to find himself in his first Masters 1000 final and crack the top-10.

Seeking the first big title of his young career, Novak suffered a 6-2, 7-5 loss to Rafa in an hour and 34 minutes, experiencing the second defeat against the Spaniard from as many encounters. The more experienced player made a better start and closed the opening set in style.

Novak raised his level in set number two and proved his quality against world no. 2. Nadal fended off three break chances in the second set's fourth game and faced more trouble in games eight and ten. Novak reached deuces but could not make an extra step and create break points.

Nadal kept his serve intact and delivered a crucial break at 5-5 to move in front. The Spaniard sealed the deal on his serve a few minutes later for his seventh Masters 1000 crown and the first in the desert. Djokovic was pleased with his run in the past ten days, playing well and matching Nadal's pace in the second set.

The Serb knew he would challenge the Spaniard in the future, feeling eager to deliver his A-game against the rivals from the top.

Novak Djokovic made a great start to the 2007 season.

"Nadal was a better player today; I must admit that and congratulate him.

I did not play my best tennis. I was not 100% fit, although that's not the main reason for my level. I'm delighted with my tournament and the season's start. It's essential to play the best tennis during the most important tournaments.

I was nervous initially, playing my first Masters 1000 final. After a couple of games, the stadium was more or less packed, with a crowd of 15,000 watching the encounter; the atmosphere was great. Rafa started strong, and I did not, making a lot of unforced errors.

His forehand worked like a charm, which gave him control. I tried to make a comeback in the second set, playing a little better since the end of the first. I had massive opportunities, especially those three break chances in the fourth game and deuces at 4-3 and 5-4.

However, I wasted them and allowed Rafa to seal the deal in straight sets. My backhand did not work like I would have wanted today, not moving great and making many mistakes. Rafa is more experienced than me, competing at around 20 Masters 1000 and Major finals at 20.

I could have played better, but I have to stay positive. I think I can compete against Rafa from the baseline; my shots are powerful too. With an improved backhand, I will stay in touch with him, like today in set number two," Novak Djokovic said.

Novak Djokovic Rafael Nadal Indian Wells