Miami Flashback: Rafael Nadal blows another chance to win missing title

Rafael Nadal lost the 2008 Miami Open final to Nikolay Davydenko

by Jovica Ilic
Miami Flashback: Rafael Nadal blows another chance to win missing title

Rafael Nadal missed a massive opportunity to win the Miami Masters in 2005 at 18. Rafa lost to Roger Federer in five sets and earned another chance to add the missing title to his collection three years later. Nadal faced Nikolay Davydenko in the final on April 6, 2008, and suffered a 6-4, 6-2 loss in an hour and 31 minutes.

Thus, the Russian claimed his second Masters 1000 crown and the Spaniard missed another opportunity to conquer Florida. The 3rd seed Novak Djokovic suffered an unexpected loss to qualifier Kevin Anderson in the second round.

At the same time, Davydenko barely escaped the same fate, beating Ernests Gulbis 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 in two hours and 41 minutes for a winning start. Nikolay had to come from a set down against Simone Bolelli and Mario Ancic. He played his best tennis when he needed it the most to stay in the competition before the commanding 6-2, 6-1 triumph over Janko Tipsarevic that pushed him into the semi-final.

He ousted Andy Roddick 7-6, 6-2, settling into a great rhythm in the last two matches (Janko and Andy broke him only twice) and moving into the final. The 2nd seed Rafael Nadal advanced into the season's fourth semi-final.

He missed a chance to win the crown in Doha, Melbourne and Indian Wells, hoping to change that in his second Miami title match. After three straight sets triumphs, Rafa overcame James Blake 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 and beat Tomas Berdych 7-6, 6-2 to secure another Masters 1000 final.

Davydenko proved too strong in the decisive battle, scoring his first victory over Nadal in three matches and lifting the career's most significant title.

Nikolay Davydenko defeated Rafael Nadal in straight sets in the 2008 Miami final.

Despite those couple of losses, Nikolay could beat Rafa on both hard and clay.

He pushed the Spaniard to the limits at the 2006 Masters Cup and in Rome the following year, staying on the court for three hours and 39 minutes before Nadal prevailed. There was only one player on the court in this Miami clash.

Nikolay controlled the pace and scored a dominant triumph to leave Rafa empty-handed. The Russian lost serve once and scored four breaks to move over the finish line in style. Davydenko was one of the rare players who could endure the baseline rallies with Nadal.

He covered the court beautifully and hit the ball early to take away the timing from the Spaniard and keep the points on his racquet. The Russian finished the match with more winners, fewer unforced errors and more forced mistakes drawn from Rafa.

Also, he destroyed the rival in the mid-range rallies to forge the triumph. Nadal held at 15 in the encounter's opening game with a forehand winner. Nikolay responded in the same way, making an excellent hold in game two and forcing Rafa's error to secure the first break in the next one and move 2-1 up.

World no. 2 broke back at love in game four and missed more chances at 3-2 before suffering a tough break at love at 3-3. Thus, he allowed Nikolay to open a 5-3 advantage with a hold at love after a service winner. Serving for the set in game ten, Davydenko grabbed another comfortable hold for 6-4 in 45 minutes, gathering momentum and hoping for more in set number two.

Nadal was in an adamant position when his forehand landed long in the second set's opening game to experience a break. To make things even worse, the Spaniard failed to win a point on the return in the early stages and got broken again at 1-3 when Nikolay painted a forehand winner.

Serving for the title at 5-2, the Russian landed a forehand crosscourt winner to seal the deal and get his hands on the trophy after a thrilling performance against one of the fiercest possible rivals.

Rafael Nadal Miami Open Nikolay Davydenko