Novak Djokovic cut short Rafael Nadal’s reign at the Monte Carlo Masters on Sunday as he beat the Spaniard 6-2, 7-6(7-1) to win the trophy for the first time.
Nadal had ruled on the Country Club clay, winning the last eight titles and his phenomenal win streak was ended at 46 straight. Djokovic claimed the victory in one hour, 51 minutes after starting the week on a bad ankle and lifting his level along the way. Nadal lost for only the second time at the event, with his previous defeat coming in 2003 to Guillermo Coria.
“It's such a great pleasure to win here, it's very special,” said Djokovic, who won the first set in 47 minutes as Nadal double-faulted after saving seven set points including five in one game. “I live here and love this event. Rafa, it was a pleasure again, thanks for allowing me to win here at least once. I can't ask for a better start of the clay season.”
Nadal threatened in the second set as he took a 4-2 lead over Djokovic. But the inspired Serb fought back, levelling at 4-4 only to drop serve for 5-6. That mistake was followed by a break-back of shaky Nadal, whose confidence is still not at the top after missing seven months with knee injuries from last summer.
Once into the second-set tiebreak, Djokovic sprinted to victory, earning the first Monte Carlo trophy of his career after losing the 2009 and 2012 finals to Nadal.
Nadal was playing in his fifth straight final since his comeback in February. “What Novak is doing is just amazing,” said the losing finalist. “Congratulations for winning my favourite event and all the best for the rest of your season.
Nadal stands 38-6 in clay finals, losing to only three players — Djokovic (three times) Roger Federer (twice) and Horacio Zeballos (once).
The result: Novak Djokovic bt Rafael Nadal 6-2, 7-6(1).