Novak Djokovic claimed his third ATP World Tour title on Monday after a 6-3, 6-4 victory over world number one Rafael Nadal.
It was not the epic many had hoped for with Djokovic easing to victory and extending his remarkable unbeaten streak to 22 matches.
The Serbian has not been defeated since the US Open and it was his fourth title win on the bounce.
“This is the second best run that I have had. The most positive thing I can take from this is that I regrouped after big losses against Nadal – at Roland Garros and the French Open,” Djokovic said after the match.
This is the second best run that I have had. The most positive thing I can take from this is that I regrouped after big losses against Nadal - at Roland Garros and the French Open
“Playing against Nadal always makes me work harder and play better and become a more skillful player. I have won a lot of matches in the last two months and I feel extra motivated and inspired.”
While both players made uncharacteristic errors, Djokovic dominated the match with his superb athleticism and ability to pull off some unthinkable returns.
It was the 39th time Nadal had played the Serb and it was one of their most uneven recent meetings, and one Nadal will hope to quickly put behind him.
“I think the level of tennis was similar but the level of service was not similar. The one thing that made the difference was the serve. He hit his first shot much better than me,” a weary looking Nadal said in the post-match press conference.
“I made too many unforced errors but I want to congratulate him and get ready for Australia to play my best game.”
There were some superb passages of play, but Nadal showed more signs of fatigue as Djokovic rarely faltered.
It took Djokovic only seven minutes to break as he raced into a 3-0 lead. Nadal made two double faults in the next game but managed to fight back to 3-1.
Things looked more positive for Nadal when he broke back at 3-2, but that was the best it would get for the Spaniard.
Djokovic got his second break after the most sensational point of the match. The Serbian repeatedly defied tennis gravity, pulling out a stunning return that left the audience stunned.
The point impressed the world number two so much he gave his trademark roar as he took a 5-3 lead.
From this point Djokovic rarely looked back.
In the net game, Nadal was unlucky with a net cord bounce, but the first set was always heading Djokovic’s way. And it came after 44 minutes for the defending champion.
In the second set there were some ferocious rallies as the world number one and two traded blows.
Nadal held his serve, and nerve, but only for one game. In the third game Djokovic ran into a 40-0 advantage and despite Nadal fighting back to 40-30, claimed another early break after an unforced error from the world number one.
With Djokovic holding his service game at 3-1, it was a long way back for Nadal.
Nadal – who is far from his best on the hard court – didn’t have the energy for the fight. While Djokovic remained upright and composed, Nadal stooped and had to bend almost to the floor on his backhand return. A move that started to looked increasingly unhealthy for his back.
There were glimpses of Nadal at his best, but the odd flash of magic was quashed by Djokovic instantly.
Sensing Nadal’s frustration, the crowd did their best to spur him on. He fought back bravely in the sixth game of the second set saving two break points to keep a game behind Djokovic at 4-3.
Nadal continued the fight saving a championship point at 5-3 and another at 5-4. However, it was third time lucky for Djokovic who claimed his third title in front of 18,000 people in London’s O2.
“I would like to congratulate Rafa and his team for an amazing season, what they have done this year is amazing and congratulations in ending the season as world No. 1,” Djokovic said after receiving the trophy.
“Thank you to all the fans here. Thank you for coming out here every day this week, there were no empty seats for any of the matches, thank you so much for supporting all of us.”