After consistent results in notable tournaments in the last 14 to 15 months, Novak Djokovic had the opportunity to become world number two for the first time in Hamburg in 2008. Facing clay king Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals, Djokovic lowered it. He gave his all in the 7-5, 2-6, 6-2 loss after three hours and three minutes, missing an opportunity to reach the final and knock Nadal out of the top 2 for the first time in nearly three years. Rafa prevailed to beat Novak with a good performance in the decider, although he had to fight for each point to emerge at the top and stay on the road to the title. Nadal took just five more points than Djokovic and defended 15 of 19 break opportunities to stay in touch and cross the finish line with five return games on his account. Two big rivals pulled off a similar number of winners, and Novak outpointed Rafa in the forced error department. However, the Serb squandered that advantage in the unforced errors segment, adding too many of those, often at crucial moments, to propel the Spaniard into a title clash against world number one Roger Federer. The match continues under the roof of the center court, and Novak got the first break opportunities with a winning volley in the second game. He forced the Spaniard’s mistake to break early and adjust to a good pace. Finding his rhythm, Djokovic landed a forehand on the line in the third game to cement the lead and advance further. Nadal trailed 30-0 in Game 4, taking just four of 18 points so far and looking powerless on the court against a determined opponent. Rafa erased two break opportunities and brought the game home to put his name on the scoreboard. Novak blew game points at 3-1 and was broken when Rafa landed a forehand down the line and gained momentum.
Woodbridge reflects on Djokovic
Todd Woodbridge recently claimed it is unlikely for Novak Djokovic to sit out of the 2022 Australian Open over his vaccination status. According to Woodbridge, Djokovic will not want to let go of the opportunity to win a 21st Slam and move ahead of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the Grand Slam race. “With so much on the line for Novak, you’ve got to think that he’s seriously going to think about it… he’s tied at 20 with Roger and Rafa for Grand Slam titles and he wants to take that over and spread that gap,” Woodbridge said to 2GB’s Wide World of Sports radio. Todd Woodbridge did acknowledge, however, that it would be difficult for Novak Djokovic to take part in next year’s Australian Open without getting vaccinated. “It’s difficult,” Woodbridge said. “He’s obviously had COVID-19 … he probably feels he’s got some special strength against it.”