Djokovic extends mastery over Nadal in Italy

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Djokovic extends mastery over Nadal in Italy


Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after winning against Rafael Nadal of Spain on Sunday. [REUTERS/YONHAP]

ROME - Novak Djokovic is just starting to get used to hearing his name mentioned in the same breath as the legends of the game.

The seemingly unstoppable Serb stretched his unbeaten start to the season to 37 matches on Sunday with a 6-4, 6-4 win over top-ranked Rafael Nadal in the Italian Open final.

Djokovic’s streak trails only John McEnroe’s 42-0 start in 1984. Overall, the 23-year-old has won 39 consecutive matches stretching back to Serbia’s Davis Cup triumph in December, seven behind Guillermo Vilas’ Open era record set in 1977.

“It’s an incredible honour to be a part of tennis history in some way and part of an elite group of players - Federer, Nadal, McEnroe, [Ivan] Lendl, guys who were winning so many in a row,” Djokovic said.

“I don’t know how much good it brings to tennis but it’s good that someone else is able to win other than just Federer and Nadal. It makes it more interesting.”

The second-ranked Djokovic has racked up seven titles already this year, and beaten Nadal in all four finals they’ve played.

He defeated the Spaniard for the first time on clay in last week’s Madrid Open final and this win makes him the first player to beat Nadal on clay twice in the same year, a feat that comes exactly a week before the French Open starts.

Djokovic is collecting so many records that he had to take a long pause when asked which one he’s most proud of.

“I’m just most happy about the game I have this year on clay - the way I’m striking the ball and the way I’m so self-confident,” he eventually responded.

“I always knew I could beat the top players but now I have the confidence to do it.”

Djokovic’s edge over Nadal could enable him to overtake his rival for the No. 1 ranking the week after the French Open.

“He’s doing amazing things. Every match he’s very tough mentally and physically,” Nadal said. “I’m doing everything I can. I can’t ask myself anymore now. I’m doing very well but one player is doing better than me. I am waiting every week to try solutions, so let’s see.”

Nadal said it’s “impossible” for Djokovic’s streak to go on forever.

“I have to wait for my moment to win and I know that,” the Spaniard said.

Also Sunday, Maria Sharapova stormed to a 6-2, 6-4 win over Sam Stosur in the woman’s final for the biggest clay-court title of her career.


한글 관련 기사 [뉴스엔]

노박 조코비치-마리아 샤라포바 이탈리아오픈 우승, 조코비치 37전 전승

노박 조코비치와 마리아 샤라포바가 테니스 부문 최강자의 자리에 올랐다.

노박 조코비치는 5월 16일(한국시간) 로마에서 열린 남녀프로테니스 이탈리아 인터내셔널 남자 단식부문 결승에 나서 라파엘 나달을 꺾고 우승을 차지했다.

조코비치는 랭킹 1위인 나달을 상대로 초강세를 보이며 이날 경기에서도 세트스코어 2-0(6-4, 6-4)로 눌렀다.

이번 시즌 들어 37전 전승의 믿기지 않는 테니스머신 수준의 성적이다. 지난 시즌까지 포함한 연승 기록은 39연승으로 지난 1977년 기예르모 빌라스가 세운 46연승에도 도전해봄직하다.

게다가 나달을 상대로 4전 전승을 기록해 지난 시즌 나달에게 9전 전패를 당한 복수의 칼을 갈고 나왔다는 것을 보여주고 있다.

한편 샤라포바는 약혼자로 알려진 미국 프로농구(NBA) 뉴저지 네츠의 사샤 부야치치의 응원에 힘입어 우승에 올랐다.

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