Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic developed an impressive rivalry between Roland Garros 2006 and Cincinnati 2009. They played 19 matches on Tour, with Nadal winning 14 times. Nadal and Djokovic were thinking of playing on the same side of the court, and it should come at the 2009 Cincinnati Masters.
At the last moment, Nadal decided to skip the doubles and focus on his singles campaign after being sidelined for two months with knee problems. Dealing with tendinitis, Nadal suffered the Roland Garros fourth-round loss to Robin Soderling in four sets, experiencing the first loss in Paris and missing the next Wimbledon.
Returning to the court in Montreal, Rafa beat David Ferrer and Philipp Petzschner to reach the quarters before losing to Juan Martin Del Potro 7-6 6-1 after losing ground in the second set. The Spaniard went to Cincinnati and beat Andreas Seppi in the first round before overcoming Paul-Henri Mathieu and Tomas Berdych to meet in the semi-final.
Despite a reliable performance against the Czech, Nadal’s level was not enough to challenge Novak Djokovic in the battle for the final. Djokovic beat Nadal 6-1 6-4 in one hour and 32 minutes. He played at a high level from start to finish to end the losing streak against the Spaniard and continue on the title trail.
Novak was the most aggressive player, wanting to keep the points on his racket and dictate the pace. Djokovic forged the advantage on the shorter points by up to four shots and saved the only break point to keep the pressure on the other side.
Novak got three breaks to control the scoreboard and beat Rafa in the same round for the second year in a row.
Mouratoglou opens up on Nole
Patrick Mouratoglou recently stated that Novak Djokovic’s single-most important goal was to take the lead over Rafael Nadal in the all-time Grand Slam race.
“There is one of the most interesting things in the history of our game that is taking place at the moment, which is this race,” Mouratoglou said in a video on his Instagram page. “At this stage of his career, Novak has one goal, which is to win as many Grand Slams as possible because he’s into a race with Rafa.
He doesn’t have many chances, he has only 2 per year, because at the moment he doesn’t play the Australian Open and the US Open. So in order to be really efficient in those big tournaments, you need matches, you need to be in the rhythm, and you need to win matches. He’s lacking that for the moment,” he added.