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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Rafael Nadal beats Novak Djokovic ahead of Roger Federer clash

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Novak Djokovic became the third-strongest link on the Tour in 2007, behind Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The 20-year-old Serb played his first Major final at the US Open. He reached the semi-final at Roland Garros and Wimbledon and conquered two Masters 1000 titles for his first ATP Finals berth.

Novak’s 68th victory that year came in the Madrid quarter-final against Mario Ancic before dropping the season’s last five encounters. Three defeats came at the ATP Finals in Shanghai, where Djokovic failed to secure the semi-final place after losing to David Ferrer, Richard Gasquet and Rafael Nadal.

Unable to find his best tennis, Novak won only 14 games against Ferrer and Gasquet and faced Nadal in his last match of the season. It was already the seventh meeting between two great youngsters on the most significant scene in 2007.

Nadal scored the fifth victory following a 6-4, 6-4 win in an hour and 44 minutes. Thus, Rafa advanced into the last four for the second straight year, facing Roger Federer in the battle for a place in the final. The Spaniard lost 15 points in ten service games, fending off three out of four break chances and keeping the pressure on the other side.

Novak could not follow those numbers, getting broken three times to push Rafa towards the finish line. The Spaniard had 17 winners and 12 unforced errors, taming his strokes nicely and taking advantage of the Serb’s 30 unforced errors.

Also, Nadal dominated the mid-range exchanges to move over the top in straight sets. Djokovic opened a 40-0 lead in the encounter’s first game before Nadal bounced back, extending the game to 14 points and missing two break chances.

Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic at the 2007 ATP Finals.

The Spaniard held at love in game two with a beautiful volley winner and secured a break a few minutes later to open a 2-1 gap. With momentum on his side, Rafa held at love and took 12 of the previous 14 points.

Novak netted a volley in game five to suffer another break, struggling but pulling it back in the next one following a lucky net cord winner. Rock-solid behind the initial shot, Nadal landed an ace down the T line to open a 5-3 gap and moved closer to the set.

The Spaniard created a set point on the return in game nine, and Djokovic saved with a brilliant winner at the net. Serving for the set at 5-4, Rafa held at 15 to wrap up the first part of the match in style, hoping for more in the rest of the encounter.

Novak sprayed a backhand error in the second set’s third game to find himself a set and a break down. Rafa confirmed the break with a service winner in game four and took four straight points behind the initial shot at 3-2 to remain in front.

Djokovic finally made some damage on the return in game eight thanks to a forehand down the line winner. However, he wasted his opportunity after netting an easy forehand. Nadal fended off the second break chance with a mind-blowing defense and a volley winner at the net.

He forced Djokovic’s error to bring the game home and open a 5-3 lead. Serving for the victory at 5-4, Rafa placed a perfect volley winner to move over the top and set the Roger Federer clash, like a year ago.

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