Two weekends ago Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal for the first time in a tournament final. It was both remarkable and understandable – Nole was riding some serious mojo and Rafa was just getting going again after a false start Down Under. When the two met in yet another Masters final this Sunday in Miami, the big question in my mind was: “But can he do it again?”
Yep, and under duress: 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4). Nole had plenty of chances to blow it, give in, let Rafa wrestle the match to the ground, but he refused to play along.
When I sat down today to watch the final, I said to Fritters: “If Rafa wins, it’s the same old, same old. If Nole wins, things get interesting.” I like both guys, but don’t have a natural rooting interest for one over the other. So in the interest of interesting, I rooted for Djokovic.
Earlier in the week, Roger (remember that guy?) said he thought the court speed in Miami was similar to a clay court surface. As we head into the European clay court season (ahhhh Monte Carlo!), where Rafa usually reigns, it may be Nole coming out on top. Nadal has mountains of points to defend – 7,000 through Wimbledon – and Novak is wielding a pick axe for a racquet.
Though he’s playing it cool:
“I think it’s a bit early to talk about getting that top spot in the rankings. It’s still quite a big difference. Rafa is definitely the best player in the world now,” Novak told reporters.
“If I want to have that shot, the No. 1 ranking, I need to play consistently well throughout the whole year. We all know that clay court is his favorite surface, and obviously somewhere where he plays his best.”
Nadal’s take on Nole:
“I think he’s going to be No. 1.”
“I don’t feel [like] he’s breathing on my neck… but he won two tournaments in a row right now, very big tournaments, [as well as] one Grand Slam. Normal thing is he will be No. 1 in the next month, month and a half, two months. I don’t know. Depends on my results on clay.”
(Quotes via the ATP.)
On the women’s side, I was most entertained this week by Maria Sharapova’s dogged fight to the finish. But she was over matched by Victoria Azarenka in the final, Vika winning her second singles trophy in Miami on Saturday: 6-1, 6-4. I’m not sure if this result is ultimately a positive or a negative sign for Masha. Of course it’s nice to make a big final, but she had to work so dang hard to do it, battling gals like Alexandra Dulgheru to the brink.
But back to Vika, who claims to have a new, mature perspective to her career. I liked this quote (via the WTA):
“I changed my mentality a bit. I’m enjoying myself so much on the court that there’s no room for frustration. People want to see me emotional – they like it – but this is how I am right now. I just don’t care if I lose. I’m just there to do the best I can.
“What I mean by not caring about losing is just not creating such a big drama out of it. If you lose, you lose. It’s not the end of the world. It sounds a bit out there, but with what happened in Japan, for example, we’re here playing tennis, being able to do something we love. So why make a big deal out of it?”
Okay, no biggie.
In doubles, Daniela Hantuchova and Agnieszka Radwanska took the title over Liezel Huber and Nadia Petrova. Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes are now the No. 1 doubles team in the world after taking out Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor 6-7(5), 6-2, 10-5 in the final.