History is on the cards. Never have these two great players even been further apart.
Rafael Nadal is on course to finish the year without a Masters 1000 title or Grand Slam for the first time since 2004. He could also finish the year (long way to go yet) without a win against a top five ranked player for the first time in his career. Nadal is also one loss away from 16 defeats in one calendar year, something he has done since 2004.
Novak Djokovic on the other hand is in his twelfth successive final on the tour breaking Roger Federer’s record of 11 and the world number one is unbeaten in Beijing and has won six of his last seven against Nadal.
Surely with the way both are playing a win for Djokovic should be straight forward?
Nadal began the match in Beijing but it was Djokovic who got on the scoreboard first with a break of serve after a few forehand errors from Nadal in his opening service game. Djokovic found himself 0-30 down on serve however he got himself out of trouble with a lovely serve out wide and then took advantage of the open space with the forehand out wide to go 2-0 up.
Nadal managed to hold for 1-2 but could he get that break of serve back? Nadal produced his first forehand winner of the match but couldn’t find a way to effect the Djokovic serve who took a 3-1 lead in the match. The first fist pump of the match from Nadal as he held to love with a top backhand winner for 2-3.
If anything the backhand of Nadal was doing more damage right now to Novak. It was flat with pace and power and the Spaniard found himself 0-30 and then 15-40 on the Djokovic serve with break points! The rally of the match went in Novak’s favour with a beautiful drop shot at the net set up game point and Novak went 4-2 up.
Another love hold of serve looked like following for Nadal but he quickly found himself at deuce and the world number one came up with break point with an incredible drop shot / lob shot combo and then Nadal produced a great tweener before Djokovic smashed it away. A volley into the net sealed it and Djokovic went 5-2 up and would serve for it.
The world number one had no worries serving it out with an hold to love for the first time in the match to take the set 6-2. Scoreline unfair on Nadal? I’m not sure.
After the first set I was reading reaction on Twitter and there seemed to be a collective agreement that Nadal had play really in that set despite losing it 6-2. Break points saved – Djokovic 2/2, Nadal 1/3. Big Points!
Nadal held serve at the beginning of the second set but could he find a way back into this match?
Nadal did manage to get to deuce on the Novak serve but he just couldn’t find a breakthrough as Novak levelled up for 1-1. Drama in Beijing. Nadal went 0-30 down on serve and then stopped the game and seemed to be having an issue with his right foot and called on the trainer. After a few minutes Nadal did return to court!
Break points came for Novak at 15-40 and a forced error Nadal sealed the break as Nadal was broken and Djokovic went 2-1 up. Nadal did get the crowd cheering again with a service return forehand winner but couldn’t the stop the world number one consolidating the break for 3-1. A double fault put Nadal 0-30 down on serve and he went on to be broken for 4-1 with the match looking over.
He extended his lead to 5-1 despite Nadal producing another massive forehand winner and the world number one game away from defending his title. Nadal held for 2-5 but could he break Djokovic for the first time in the match?
It didn’t take long for Novak to win it. Just under an hour and a half as he remains unbeaten in Beijing with a 6-2 6-2 win against Nadal.