Djokovic beats Nadal to win Ericsson Open

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Djokovic beats Nadal to win Ericsson Open


Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after defeating Rafael Nadal of Spain during the men’s final at the Sony Ericsson Open tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, Florida, Sunday. Djokovic won 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4). [AP/YONHAP]

KEY BISCAYNE, Florida - Novak Djokovic won his fourth consecutive tournament Sunday, beating top-ranked Rafael Nadal 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) in a grueling final at the Sony Ericsson Open.

Djokovic has won 26 consecutive matches since December, and his record of 24-0 in 2011 is the best to begin a year since Ivan Lendl started 25-0 in 1986.

Djokovic, ranked No. 2, was pushed the distance by Nadal on a sunny, hot afternoon but it was Djokovic who looked fresher at the finish.

“It was such a close match,’’ he said. “To win against the No. 1 player of the world in a tiebreak in the third set, it’s just incredible.’’

He pulled a forehand winner crosscourt on the final point for his second Key Biscayne title. He also won in 2007.

Djokovic beat Nadal in the final at Indian Wells two weeks ago and is 8-0 against top-10 opponents this year. He’s the first man to win Indian Wells and Key Biscayne back to back since Roger Federer in 2006.

“What he’s doing is unbelievable,’’ Nadal said. “First thing, he’s very good; second thing, he’s playing with big confidence. When you’re winning, it’s easier to keep winning.’’

As the victories mount, his popularity rises. Djokovic seemed to have at least half the record capacity crowd of 14,625 in his corner. Fans frequently chanted “No-le! No-le!’’ - his nickname. In response came chants of “Ra-fa! Ra-fa!’’

The two finalists will keep the same rankings, even though Nadal hasn’t won a tournament since Tokyo in October.

“It’s the best four months in my life, but it’s only the start of the season,’’ Djokovic said. “It’s a bit early to talk about getting that top spot in the rankings. Rafa is definitely the best player in the world now. If I want to have the No. 1 ranking, I need to play consistently well throughout the whole year.’’

Nadal fell to 0-3 in Key Biscayne finals.

“Maybe I was a little bit more nervous than other days,’’ Nadal said, “maybe because I never won here, and this is the third chance.’’

Djokovic fell behind early in the match, losing his serve for the first time in the tournament. Twice he smashed his racket, but he gradually climbed back, despite Nadal’s best efforts.

Both players misfired - they had 36 unforced errors apiece - but there were plenty of riveting rallies. One lasted 26 strokes; another ended with Djokovic tumbling near the net post after he flicked a lunging backhand crosscourt for a winner.

Then the heat began to take its toll. Djokovic panted after particularly long points, while a sweaty Nadal repeatedly toweled off his face, arms and even legs.

Both players held throughout the final set but it finally swung Djokovic’s way in the tiebreaker.

“It was obvious that both of us were slowing down toward the end,’’ Djokovic said. “In the tiebreak, it was really anybody’s game. Until the last shot, I didn’t know if I was going to win or not.’’

The fourth point proved pivotal. Djokovic put Nadal on the run, sending him left, right then left again before finding an opening to hit a winner. The 15-shot rally left the crowd in a roar and Nadal hunched over in exhaustion.

Nadal double-faulted on the next point to fall behind 3-2.

Djokovic won the next three points, as well.

“There’s nothing left in my body right now,’’ Nadal said 90 minutes after the match. “I love these kind of matches.’’ With a smile he added, “For sure I love to win, not lose.’’


한글 관련 기사 [경향신문]

조코비치, 나달 꺾고 26연승 질주

소니 에릭슨 오픈 우승… 올 시즌 4개 대회 정상

세계 2위까지 치솟은 노박 조코비치(24·세르비아)가 올시즌 남자 프로테니스(ATP) 판도를 재편하고 있다. 지난달 로저 페더러(30·스위스·3위)와 라파엘 나달(25·스페인·1위)의 ‘양강 구도’를 깨뜨린 데 이어 이제는 독주 태세까지 보이고 있다.

조코비치는 4일 미국 플로리다주 마이애미에서 열린 ATP 투어 소니 에릭슨 오픈 단식 결승에서 나달에게 2-1(4-6 6-3 7-6) 역전승을 거뒀다. 지난해 12월부터 26연승, 새해들어서는 24전 전승이다. 나달과 결승전에서 2차례 맞붙어 모두 이겼고 페더러에게도 3전 전승이다.

조코비치는 시즌 첫 메이저대회인 호주오픈을 포함해 올시즌 출전한 4개 대회에서 모두 정상에 올랐다. 24경기에서 상대에게 단 6세트만 내줄 정도로 압도적인 모습이다.

조코비치가 무서운 기세로 치고 올라오면서 나달은 지난해 6월부터 지켜온 세계랭킹 1위자리도 위험해졌다. 4일 현재 나달의 ATP 랭킹 포인트는 1만2870점, 조코비치는 9700점이다. 지난해 말까지만 해도 6210점이었던 격차가 3개월 만에 3170점으로 좁혀졌다. 그러나 조코비치의 독주체제가 굳어졌다고 판단하기에는 아직 이르다. 나달이 최강의 모습을 보이는 클레이코트 대회가 이달부터 본격적으로 열리기 때문이다. 조코비치는 올시즌 4차례 포함, 하드코트에서만 개인단식 타이틀을 18개나 차지했다. 클레이코트 타이틀은 4개에 불과하다.

조코비치는 “세계랭킹 1위가 되기 위해서는 1년 내내 꾸준한 경기력을 보여줘야 한다”며 “나달이 클레이코트에서는 최고 실력을 보여줄 것”이라고 경계했다.

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