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HindustanTimes Thu,02 Oct 2014

Tennis

Nadal defiance means nothing now, says Djokovic
AFP
Paris, May 22, 2009
First Published: 21:44 IST(22/5/2009)
Last Updated: 21:45 IST(22/5/2009)
Novak Djokovic consigned his heroic, marathon Madrid Masters clash with Rafael Nadal to history on Friday, insisting it will have no bearing on his hopes of dethroning the Spaniard at Roland Garros.

The Serbian world number four squandered three match points against the four-time French Open winner in their epic semi-final in the Spanish capital.

The nail-biting defeat followed losses to the world number one in finals in Monte Carlo and Rome in this claycourt season.

Djokovic knows he's close to Nadal, but not yet close enough.

"It's not that easy. I probably played one of the best matches of my life against him, but he made some unbelievable
shots to win those points which he did - again," sighed the Serbian.

"The conditions in Spain weren't really suitable to his style of game. The altitude meant he wasn't finding his best rhythm. But when he needs to play well, he plays well.

"However, the way I played against him gives me more self-belief that I can beat him next time."

Djokovic, a French Open semi-finalist for the past two years, can only face Nadal in the final this year after being drawn in the same half as Roger Federer, who beat a fatigued Nadal in the Madrid final, bringing the Spaniard's 33-match claycourt winning streak to an end.

That was Federer's first trophy of 2009, the perfect way to come into Roland Garros where the Swiss star, having lost the last three finals here to Nadal, is seeking an elusive title to add to his 13 Grand Slam crowns.

"Roger's a player who has a lot of credit in the history of this sport," said Djokovic.

"He's loved by fans worldwide. He's number two now, has been number one and he's back on a winning streak. Tennis must be happy to see that because he's a big champion."

Djokovic said he received many plaudits for his performance in Madrid, but that he was overwhelmed by praise from Carlos Moya, a former world number one and French Open champion.

"He said it was the best three-set match he had ever seen on this surface. That was a big compliment coming from a big champion like him."


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