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Rediff.com  » Sports » Nadal-Djokovic French Open semis 'Best Slam Match of Year'

Nadal-Djokovic French Open semis 'Best Slam Match of Year'

Last updated on: November 29, 2013 16:40 IST

The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) has recognized the French Open semi-final encounter between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic as the 'Best Grand Slam Match of the Year'.

According to TennisWorldUSA.org, Nadal, better known as the 'King of Clay', triumphed in a marathon encounter against his Serbian counterpart, winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7(3), 9-7 in a gruelling five-set match.

Moreover, the conquest of the Slam by the Spaniard played a huge role in Nadal's success of clinching the year-ending number one ranking, the report said.

In the 35th meeting between the players, Djokovic had threatened to give Nadal a rough ride as he won four games on the trot to take the second set but the Serb was quickly given a reality check when he claimed only 12 points in a hopelessly one-sided third set.

Nadal then stood two points from the final in the fourth set when he inexplicably let Djokovic off the hook by dropping serve at 6-5 up.

The Spaniard's winners suddenly dried up and his shoulders started sagging as Djokovic blew a hole through his master game-plan by blitzing through the fourth set tie-break 7-3.

Djokovic thumped his chest with a clenched fist and then threatened to thump Nadal in the fifth as he streaked into a 4-2 lead. But Roland Garros is Nadal's domain and over the years Grand Slam champions in the calibre of Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Lleyton Hewitt, Juan Martin del Potro and Carlos Moya all tried - and failed - to conquer the clay-court supremo.

Djokovic, six times a major winner, turned out to be no different.

Serving at 4-3 up and 40-40, Djokovic was first left fuming when he was warned by umpire Pascal Maria for time wasting.

He reacted by launching into his serve and emphatically smashed the ball away for a point that should have moved him to advantage. But he bizarrely almost tipped over the net and the umpire awarded the point to Nadal, leaving Djokovic to gesticulate wildly and argue loudly.

An opponent hot and bothered is exactly what Nadal wanted and he needed no second invitation to pounce and break.

If that was bad for Djokovic, two games later Nadal illustrated the different mindset of the players when he hit a between-the-leg trick shot while running towards the baseline and the Serbian promptly smashed the ball into the net.

The crowd howled, Nadal grinned sheepishly and Djokovic threw daggers.

"You are not even looking at the court," Djokovic raged at the umpire during the changeover. "You are not taking any decisions."

Ten minutes later, Nadal took the decision out of everyone's hands when the top seed hit a forehand long on match point, leaving the Spaniard to leap into the air in celebration.

"I really fought a lot," the Spaniard, who did not let a point penalty in the third set throw him off course, said after carving out a 20th win over his rival.

"In 2012 in Australia, it was a similar match but Novak won. Today it was me. That's what makes the sport very big." 

However, Djokovic later went on to win the ATP World Tour Finals event in London, beating Nadal in straight sets in the final.

Image: Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic after the match

Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images