(November 11, 2013) LONDON – It was not quite the epic that the crowd had expected, but No. 2 Novak Djokovic overcame some spirited shot-making from No. 1 Rafael Nadal towards the end of the match to defend his title at the ATP World Tour Finals 6-3, 6-4.
It was perhaps a nervous start from the Spaniard, who was broken in his first service game before he seemed to settle enough to dish Djokovic a taste of his own medicine with a break to get things back on serve.
It was shortlived as he played a second game with a pair of double-faults – this time handing Djokovic a chance to serve for the first set, which he duly saw off with an ace to wrap that up in 44 minutes.
The Serbian kept the momentum with another early break at the start of the second set and this time he was looking the more dominant, but just not able to capitalize on a championship point.
It was around this point that Nadal was throwing caution to the wind and coming up with the kinds of winners we had seen throughout the tournament, but it was a case of too little too late, as Djokovic was rewarded on his third match point with a wayward shot from Nadal.
Nadal said the key to the match was the serve. “I think the level of tennis was similar, my opinion,” Nadal said. “The level of serve was not similar. That’s first thing when I think about the match, first image that I see. If I can say about one thing that makes the difference in today’s match was the serve, that I didn’t serve well, he served well, I didn’t. So in this kind of court, first shot is very important, and he did that first shot much better than me.
“For the rest I felt that when I was playing, I was not far away off his level. But he, you know, played with advantage almost all the match because I give him opportunities with my serve.”
Djokovic whose current win-streak is up to 22 spoke about his run: “Well, next to the run that I had in 2011, this is definitely the second best I’ve had. Just for me, the most positive thing that I can take from this two and a half months is the fact that I managed to regroup after a few big losses after Nadal, especially Roland Garros, US Open final and Wimbledon final.
“As I said, work harder and play better, become an even more skillful player. I think I’ve worked on a few things in my game and serve that has helped me win a lot of matches in last two months. This is definitely the best possible way that I can finish the season, of course, the official ATP season, not including the Davis Cup final that I have in a few days’ time, where of course I hope we can bring another title to our country.”
“This can serve as a great platform for 2014 season. I’m extra motivated and inspired to work and get myself, first of all, rested and recovered in the off‑season, and then work on my game and get ready for Australian Open.”
For Nadal, it is now officially the end of his season, but Djokovic will have to pick himself up and get ready for the Davis Cup Final, where he will be expected to win both his rubbers if the Serbians want to have any chance of beating the Czech Republic.