Phenomenal Nadal played perfect match, says Djokovic
PARIS (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic was under no illusions about the Herculean effort it would take to beat Rafa Nadal in Sunday's French Open final, but even he was amazed at the level of perfection the Spaniard achieved to get a 13th place. Winning titles on the Parisian sand.
33-year-old Djokovic didn't play badly in the final, but it was 55 minutes before he recorded his first game in a game that turned out to be a failure.
At the time, his job seemed as hopeless as climbing the Eiffel Tower with his arms and legs tied together, and although he fought valiantly, he was knocked down 6-0, 6-2, 7-5.
"I don't have much to say but I was completely outdone by Rafa, the better player on the pitch," Djokovic, who many believed was a small favorite to end Nadal's dominance at Roland Garros, told reporters.
"He wasn't absent at all and got every ball back, just played great tactically. I felt good throughout the tournament. I thought I was in great shape."
"Of course I could have played better, especially in the first two sets. But he surprised me with the way he played and the quality of the tennis he produced," added Djokovic.
"He's phenomenal. He fit perfectly, especially in the first two sentences."
Eight of the first eleven games came to an end, but whenever Djokovic had a chance, Nadal slammed the door. Incredibly, the Spaniard only made 14 casual mistakes and while Djokovic made 52, many were the result of desperation trying to find a way to stop the attack.
"It seems amazing not to hold him back. It's amazing. I mean, I admire all of his successes, I mean, especially those here," said Djokovic of Nadal's record at Roland Garros, which is now 100-2 in terms of wins and losses reads.
Djokovic had a 37-1 record in the final that year. His only "loss" was his failure at the US Open when he hit a linesman with a ball in the fourth round.
The astute Djokovic seldom makes a mistake with his strategy, but he said his trick of using the dropshot generously against Nadal since he had all the tournaments failed.
Nadal read most of them and Djokovic's success rate with the shot was mediocre at best.
"It didn't work out very well today, shall we say," said Djokovic, who has now lost all three French Open finals to Nadal. "He won a lot of those dropshot points.
"Of course I wanted to disturb his rhythm somehow. But he was ready. He was there, he was prepared. He played the right strokes today."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, Editing by Ed Osmond)
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