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In Novak Djokovic’s words: ‘Victory over Rafael Nadal was my most notable ever’

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Novak Djokovic was a man on the missing in the first couple of months of 2007, winning the title in Adelaide and losing the fourth-round encounter at the Australian Open to Roger Federer. The Serb returned to his best in March, reaching the first Masters 1000 final in Indian Wells and claiming the first title in Miami two weeks later, still standing as the last teenager with a trophy at the premium ATP level.

Like in Indian Wells, Djokovic was too strong for Andy Murray in the semis, beating the Briton and his coeval for the third time in as many matches and continuing where he left in the previous round against world no. 2 Rafael Nadal.

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Novak played on a very high level from start to finish, still calling that triumph over Rafa as his career-best. It was the clash of the 10th and 12th seeds but there was only one player on the court, with Novak scoring a 6-1, 6-0 triumph in 63 minutes to race towards the title clash.

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Andy spent just over 30 minutes in the quarter-final duel versus Andy Roddick who had to retire before the end of the opening set, saving energy but suffering a massive loss against Novak who outplayed him in every element that day.

Djokovic lost 12 points in seven service games, fending off all three break chances and stealing almost 60% of the return points to grab five breaks from nine opportunities and seal the deal in no time.
Serving at 41%, Murray couldn’t match Novak’s pace, staying on five winners and spraying more than 20 unforced errors.

The Briton lost ground in the mid-range and most extended exchanges to drop 11 straight games and propel Djokovic through.

Novak was the first to face troubles on serve in the third game, fending off three break chances and winning five points in a row to avoid an early setback. He broke Andy in the very next game following a forehand error from the Briton, opening a 4-1 gap after a hold at love and securing another break to serve for the set after just 27 minutes.

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Novak blasted four service winners in the seventh game to close the opener in style, dominating so far and hoping for more of the same in set number two. Things went from bad to worse for Murray, who suffered a break in the first game of the second set, reaching deuce in the next one before Novak grabbed it with a service winner to gain a 6-1, 2-0 advantage.

Djokovic secured another break in game three and raced into a 5-0 lead following a double fault from Andy, moving over the top with four winners in game six to destroy the opponent and set the final clash against Guillermo Canas.

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“Two most improved young players were facing in the semi-final, with both being in great shape. I tried to stay focused on myself and my game, playing every point at 100% against the rival who could come back any time.

I learned my lesson from the past matches against Andy. I’m familiar with his game and that’s why I played so well today. I went for drop shots because he was a bit far back from the baseline, changing the rhythm and pace and trying to control the encounter.

Mentally, I’m stronger than last year; I needed time and experience for significant results. Also, I’m trying to be more aggressive and come to the net more often. I have to work on my serves and volleys to take my game to another level. It was a great display today but the match against Rafael Nadal was the best of my career.”