Young Novak Djokovic beats Rafael Nadal and sets eyes on world no. 1 spot

After a breakthrough run in 2007, Novak Djokovic became a Major champion at the beginning of 2008. Two months later, Novak advanced into the Indian Wells final following a dominant 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Rafael Nadal in an hour and 28 minutes. It was their ninth clash on the Tour and the third victory for the Serb, who lost 14 points in nine service games and got broken only once. Novak claimed half of the return points and delivered four breaks from seven opportunities, enough to advance into the final in style. Djokovic had more winners and fewer unforced errors, and he forced more mistakes from Nadal’s racquet to control the pace and stand miles in front of the Spaniard in the quickest exchanges up to four strokes.

Novak closed the opening game with a service winner, and Rafa held at love for 1-1. In his worst service game, the Serb sprayed a forehand mistake in the third game and suffered a break to fall 2-1 behind. Nadal stayed in front only for a couple of minutes, though, as he netted a forehand to lose the advantage and momentum in the fourth game. Novak held at love in game seven and broke in the next one following a lucky net cord that sent him 5-3 in front. World no. 3 landed an ace down the T line in the ninth game to wrap up the opener and gain a boost ahead of set number two.

Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal in straight sets in Indian Wells 2008.

The Spaniard received a medical timeout for a toenail on his left foot and held the second set’s opening game with an ace. The defending champion brought the third game home at 15 and wasted a break chance in the next one to keep Novak on the positive side. After his rival’s loose forehand, the Serb grabbed a break in the fifth game and cemented it with an ace for a 4-2 advantage. Nadal gave serve away again in the seventh game when his drop shot failed to reach the net, and Djokovic sealed the deal with a service winner a few minutes later to celebrate a mighty victory and advance into the final.

“I played well and smart tactically wise. I knew I had to be aggressive, take control and go for my shots, which I did. The turning point was that break at 4-3 in the opener when I had a bit of luck. When we look at the stats, I played on a high level, and my serve worked like a charm. I’m getting more and more confident with every victory. I have already achieved a lot at 20, and people consider me one of the world’s best players. That’s why I have to stay focused and go step by step. I’m also thinking about becoming world no. 1. It’s getting closer, but I do not want to go too fast and make some errors in that process. After an incredible start, I have to be consistent in the rest of the season and play more finals. Last year I played the most matches on the Tour and scored some big wins that gave me confidence,” Novak Djokovic said.