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How Important Is Rafael Nadal's Monte Carlo Win over Novak Djokovic?

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - APRIL 22:  Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates match point after his straight sets victory against Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the final  during day eight of the ATP Monte Carlo Masters, at Monte-Carlo Sporting Club on April 22, 2012 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco..  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Jack JohnsonCorrespondent IApril 22, 2012

Before today, Rafael Nadal had lost seven straight finals to Novak Djokovic. This afternoon's victory in Monte Carlo has seen the Spaniard stamp his authority on the 2012 clay-court season.

Psychologically, this is a huge win for Nadal. Having not beaten Djokovic since the ATP World Tour Finals back in 2010, this win sends a message to the Serb.

It will also, obviously, boost the confidence of Nadal who, having now won eight consecutive Monte Carlo titles at just 25 years of age, can now ascend on taking Djokovic's Madrid and Rome titles, just as the World No. 1 did to the Spaniard last year.

Nadal's 6-3, 6-1 win is also beneficial for the sport. We are in arguably the best era of men's tennis but Djokovic's meteoric rise to the top and his dominance over Nadal over the last year has made it all a little one-sided.

The standard of tennis may have improved but there has never been a Djokovic-Nadal rivalry that is comparable to the likes of Nadal-Federer, Borg-McEnroe or even Sampras-Agassi.

Now that Nadal has beaten Djokovic in a final for the first time since the U.S. Open in 2010, the standard of tennis and the magnitude of their on-court rivalry will only increase.

For Djokovic, this could be the drive he needs in his attempt to win the French Open and complete a career Grand Slam. For Nadal, a win over the world No. 1 was much needed not just for himself but for the rest of 2012.

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