Starting the season ranked 16th, Novak Djokovic wasted no time while becoming the third-strongest link in men’s tennis in 2007. The Serb entered the top-10 after Indian Wells, despite losing the final to Rafael Nadal. It was the other way around two weeks later in Miami, with Djokovic going all the way and claiming the first Masters 1000 title at 19.
The Serb served revenge over the Spaniard in the quarter-final and scored a 6-3, 6-4 triumph in an hour and 37 minutes. Djokovic scored incredibly on his second serve, taking 15 out of 20 points and fending off four out of five break chances to keep Nadal under pressure.
Unlike in Indian Wells, Rafa could not follow the rival’s pace behind the initial shot. He struggled on the second serve and got broken three times from seven chances offered to his opponent. They stayed neck and neck in the shortest rallies up to four strokes.
Djokovic had the upper hand in the mid-range and more extended exchanges to dictate the pace. He hit more winners than unforced errors and left Nadal behind. After three great holds on both sides, Novak forced a mistake from Rafa in the encounter’s fourth game to move 3-1 in front.
The Serb gathered momentum before suffering a break at 15 in the next one when his forehand landed long to bring the Spaniard back to the positive side. Djokovic’s forehand worked much better in the next game, forcing another error from Nadal to secure the second straight break and open a 4-2 gap.
Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal for the first time in the 2007 Miami QF.
Novak held at love with a service winner to cement the advantage and wrapped up the set with an incredible volley in the ninth game for 6-3. In the second set’s third game, Nadal survived three break chances to stay in touch and earned a break opportunity in the next one with a volley winner.
Novak dismissed it with a powerful forehand and leveled the score at 2-2 with a volley winner. Nadal netted a slice backhand in the fifth game to give serve away, and Djokovic gained a 4-2 lead with a hold at love a few minutes later.
Novak passed the most challenging test while serving for the victory at 5-4. He fended off three break chances with brave hitting and sealed the deal with an ace to notch the first triumph over Nadal. “This is the most significant victory of my career; Rafa is the best player I have ever beaten.
I learned many things from our Indian Wells final. My serve was bad in that one, together with a backhand and return, and Rafa used those opportunities, as you would expect from world no. 2. I was motivated today, having nothing to lose.
My results have been great in the last couple of months, and I’m in great shape; I feel confident on the court. My serve worked like a charm, and that’s a positive thing for the future. Competing against world no. 2 in the Masters 1000 quarter-final is never easy; I got a bit nervous while serving for the match.
I missed some shots, but I still played on a high level, not making too many errors that Rafa was waiting for. Playing against Michael Llodra and Feliciano Lopez helped me a lot, as they are both left-handed; those were helpful tests ahead of such a big encounter,” Novak Djokovic said.
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