Novak Djokovic on first Masters 1000 title: ‘Beating Rafael Nadal gave me boost’

Novak Djokovic made a name for himself in 2007, winning his first Masters 1000 titles and playing in the first Major final at the US Open. Novak’s first Masters 1000 crown came in Miami, beating Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to reach the title clash and toppling Guillermo Canas in three sets to lift the trophy. Competing in Rome in May, Djokovic made a winning start after beating Robin Soderling 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. Novak raised his level in sets two and three and prevailed in the pivotal moments to leave the Swede behind and advance into the next round.

Djokovic came to Rome after winning the fifth ATP title in Estoril, feeling tired but confident in his ability to fight for the crown at three notable events in the upcoming weeks. After beating Soderling, Novak mentioned his self-belief following the Miami success and victories over Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray. Djokovic secured his first triumph over Rafa in the quarters in Florida, beating the Spaniard 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 37 minutes after defending four out of five break chances. Unlike in Indian Wells two weeks earlier, Rafa could not follow the rival’s pace behind the initial shot, struggling on the second serve and getting broken three times from seven chances offered to Novak. 

Novak Djokovic spoke about his notable wins en route to the first Masters 1000 crown.

Novak broke twice in a row in the opener and brought it home with a beautiful volley at 5-3. Nadal netted a slice backhand in the second set’s fifth game to get broken, sending the younger opponent in front and allowing Djokovic to gain a 4-2 lead. Serving for the victory at 5-4, Novak passed the most challenging test, fending off three break chances with aggressive hitting and sealing the deal with an ace to notch the first triumph over Nadal.

“I think this has been my highest level in a career. Winning Miami gave me much motivation for the big tournaments after beating Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray. I have proved to myself and everyone that I have the quality to remain at the top. I’m world no. 5 at the moment, which brings a lot of pressure and expectations. Still, I’m trying not to think about that,” Novak Djokovic said.