Rafael Nadal: A Man on a Mission

April 22, 2012

ATP Tennis News

Rafael Nadal poses for the 8th time with his trophy in the locker room. Photo courtesy of Rafael Nadal.

Monte-Carlo Masters 1000, Monaco: Rafael Nadal has become the first player in history to win the same men’s singles tournament in eight successive years after a straight sets 6-3, 6-1 win over Novak Djokovic.

Mentality always plays a huge factor in tennis and this is a sport which encompasses so much more than just incredible physicality.  In the finals today, there was pressure on both players: Nadal was a man on a mission who needed to shift the momentum his way and end the run of losses against Djokovic in order to continue his dominance on clay and for Djokovic, who is grieving this week after the death of his grandfather, he needed to deal with the added expectation on him to secure another win.

For Nadal, today was finally the end of his heartache as he proved to be a fortress of mentality. From the onset he was willing to come forward at the start of the match off the forehand side and continued to show how he has developed as an all court player, even on clay.

In 59 minutes Nadal found himself a set and 3-0 up. Djokovic did not appear to be mentally and physically 100% but Nadal played so strong and aggressive – he was determined to end the 7 losses in 7 finals run and change his seven straight titles at Monte-Carlo to a record breaking eight.

Throughout the match, Nadal was hitting the ball closer to the baseline due to the awkward bounces and this often pushed Djokovic onto his back foot.  Djokovic showed glimpses of his brilliance on court when he unleashed his repertoire with perfect execution from both wings, but not consistently enough.  Nadal showed true heart, resilience, grit and recovery as Djokovic pulled him from side to side in their exchanges, however, Nadal made Djokovic continuously play that one extra point which he struggled with today more than normal.

During the match, the world No.1 was only able to break “the King of Clay” once but eventually lost in straight sets.

As the presentation ceremony commenced Monte-Carlo resident, Djokovic, congratulated his on-court rival and shared his love for the tournament:

“I’m very happy to reach the finals here, 2nd time and it’s one of my favourite tournaments.” 

Nadal wrapped up today’s victory with his 47th career title, 8 straight titles in Monte-Carlo and in 42 matches he has remained unbeaten.  The Spanish world No.1 remained light-hearted and jovial during his acceptance speech:

“Congratulations Novak for what you’ve achieved. Your level of tennis is always unbelievable and after 7 times, thanks for this one!”

After another trophy has been bitten and with a victory over Djokovic, Nadal may begin to relax a little more which is mandatory for his success on clay with the weight of expectation on his shoulder.

For me, the best thing about these two talented players is that their rivalry pushes the other to do better and I have a feeling there will be a lot more Sunday afternoon’s where we will be watching these two fight it out on the red dirt (and blue!) over the next few weeks!

Lisa-Marie Burrows

Twitter: @TennisNewsViews

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About Lisa-Marie Burrows

Lisa-Marie Burrows has a MA in Sports Broadcast Journalism and is a freelance sports journalist. She has covered many national and international tennis tournaments and has worked in Paris for Eurosport News channel. She is a member of the International Press Association and a journalist for its online magazine, IMPress. She has contributed articles for various leading websites including www.tennisgrandstand.com, www.worldtennismagazine.com, www.tennisbloggers.com, www.tennisscoop.co.uk and www.olympictennis.net. Lisa-Marie operates her tennis website www.tennisnewsviews.com where you can read her reports. She can be reached at lburrows@internationalpress.com or on Twitter @TennisNewsViews.

View all posts by Lisa-Marie Burrows

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