Sunday, 22 April 2012

Nadal Wins Record 8th Monte Carlo Masters

Monte Carlo remained a clay constructed stronghold for Rafael Nadal today, after he defeated Novak Djokovic in resounding fashion to claim the tournament for the 8th consecutive time, snapping a 7 match losing streak to the Serb in the process. His octet of titles is a staggering achievement, and will likely never be repeated by another player. He holds the record for most consecutive titles won at one tournament; most consecutive titles at a Masters series tournament and and a host of other records which can only attest further to his complete domination of the surface. But he was up against a man threatening to create blots on that record after he handed two defeats in clay finals to Nadal last year without even dropping a set. A lot was on the line for Nadal today, but he produced a commanding performance to subdue an already subdued looking Novak Djokovic.

All elements of his game were clicking today as he managed to buffer himself against the attacking strategies Djokovic had used so successfully against him in their last 7 encounters. He played consistently aggressively with excellent depth off both wings, changed pace expertly and most noteworthy, served with conviction, direction and variety against the best returner in the world right now. He dictated points for the majority of the match and did not get sucked into the same tactics which had failed in his previous attempts to stop Djokovic during his imperial run which started last year. Djokovic was visibly not at his best today, committing over double his winner count in unforced errors, but that does not detract from Nadal's fine performance. By habitude, Monte Carlo is the springboard from which Nadal galvanises himself to dominate during the clay court season up to Wimbledon, and this was a hugely encouraging display from the world no.2 which banishes the haunt Djokvic has put upon him for the past year or so. Even though Djokovic showed last year that he could stay with Nadal on clay, and that this year he will still be his most dangerous competitor, it is incredible to think that every time Nadal steps on the clay for the first time, his year starts for real, and that he is still the man to beat on la terre battue.

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