When Novak Djokovic destroyed Rafael Nadal in Doha

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic shared the year-end top-10 honors for the ninth straight season in 2015. Still, there was a light-year between two great rivals, as Novak claimed ten notables titles in one of the greatest seasons in the Open era. At the same time, Rafa stayed on three smaller trophies, doing barely enough to keep himself in the elite ten. Struggling with injuries, Nadal was without the hard-court ATP title since Doha 2014, and he earned a chance to fight for another crown at this event at the beginning of 2016. The Spaniard did not play on the highest level, but he defeated four rivals from outside the top-60 and reached the title match.

Novak Djokovic stood on the other side of the net in a battle for the trophy, motivated to continue where he left at the ATP Finals in November and extend his incredible streak. It was their tenth match following the 2013 US Open final and the ninth victory for Novak, who had the upper hand against Rafa in those years. Djokovic scored four wins over Nadal in 2015 and gave the rival no chance in Doha following a 6-1, 6-2 victory in 73 minutes on January 9! Serving at 75%, the Serb lost ten points in eight service games, fended off the only break chance and mounted the pressure on the other side. Nadal was far from those numbers, dropping over half of the points behind the initial shot and getting broken four times to propel Djokovic towards the trophy.

Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in Doha 2016 in no time.

Determined to control the pace, Novak fired 30 winners and forced almost 20 mistakes from Rafa to sail towards the title in style. Interestingly, Nadal’s only break chance came in the encounter’s opening game following Djokovic’s loose forehand, who saved it with a forehand winner to avoid an early setback. The Serb forced the rival’s error to grab a break at 15 in game two and held with a service winner to forge a 3-0 advantage. Nadal placed a forehand down the line winner in the fourth game to get his name on the scoreboard before Djokovic landed another service winner that sent him 4-1 up.

World no. 1 painted a backhand crosscourt winner for another break and closed the opener with four winners in game seven after swift 31 minutes! Rafa saved two break points at the beginning of the second set before Novak converted the third to continue his charge. In game four, Djokovic landed a forehand winner to remain in front and won an extended rally with a smash winner to open a 4-1 gap a few minutes later. Serving at 1-5, Rafa held to prolong the encounter before Novak held at 15 in game seven to seal the deal and celebrate his first Doha crown.