Novak Djokovic admitted that he ran into a rampaging, near-perfect Rafael Nadal in the French Open final on Sunday, giving him no chance to dethrone the ‘King of Clay’.
Nadal defeated Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in less than three hours to win his 13th French Open crown and 20th Grand Slam title overall. For the World No 1, it was only his second defeat of the season, and possibly one of the heaviest in a Grand Slam final.
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Serena Williams’ coach and tennis commentator Patrick Mouratoglou said that the World No 1 lost out because he wasn’t ready for a baseline battle against Nadal.
“You could feel something wrong because he was looking for easy points like trying drop shots here and there, like four drop shots in the first game,” said the Frenchman.
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“He was not prepared to rally and go for it and hit winners to give himself a chance to win that match.
“So, we didn’t have the match expected. I mean, 6-0, 6-2 and then okay 7-5 in the third but 6-0, 6-2. You cannot believe that it’s a match between Rafa and Novak. All of their matches, even the ones that were the most one-sided…There was like a big fight.”
Djokovic was more philosophical about the loss and said, “In the greatest of defeats, you learn the greatest lessons.”
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“I wanted to kind of disrupt his rhythm, obviously. But he was ready,” he told reporters later. “He was there, he was prepared. He was playing all the right shots today. It’s just one of these days where you have to just say, Chapeau, and well done.”
Nadal was ruthless against Djokovic, breaking him in the first game of the match to set the tone. The 34-year-old Spaniard committed only six unforced errors in the opening two sets.
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Also, through the fortnight, the Serb had used the drop shot to great effect. But given Nadal’s speed and touch at the net, Djokovic could only win 13 points of the 28 attempted drop shots.
“(The dropshot) didn’t work great today, let’s say,” said the 17-tim champion.
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“(Nadal) was winning a lot of those dropshot points that were played by my side. I didn’t play so many in the end of the day. I did try tactically different things, but not much worked in the first two sets.
“I felt well throughout the entire tournament. I thought I was in a great form. Certainly I could have played better, especially in the first two sets. But he did surprise me with the way he was playing, the quality of tennis he was producing, the level. He’s phenomenal. He played a perfect match.”
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Even as Nadal equaled Federer’s record of most number of Grand Slams in men’s tennis, it was another missed opportunity for Djokovic in the race for the majors. The Serb had missed out on the US Open title last month after he was defaulted in the fourth round.