Novak Djokovic: Dissecting Djoker's Greatest Clay Performances Ever
As Serb Novak Djokovic prepares to move into the third round of the 2012 French Open, it is important to analyze his early performances.
On red clay he has been a solid player throughout his career, though Roland Garros is the one Major he has yet to capture.
His repertoire allows him to play well on the dirt, and his movement only helps his chances of earning big victories.
By taking a look at highlights videos, we can see what Nole has done right against opponents in the past in his greatest matches on clay, and determine the strategies that will work best for him in upcoming matches.
This incredibly lengthy and tough encounter saw Nadal as the victor, though Nole had match points to beat Rafa on clay for the first time.
He played the right way and hung in the long baseline points with the King of Clay but unfortunately for him, the match was decided by two points.
It was this great effort, though, that allowed the Serb to finally see that beating the Spaniard on the red clay was truly possible.
Soon enough he made the thought a reality during his tremendous 2011 run, wherein he took out Rafa in back-to-back finals in Madrid and Rome, which were straight-set victories.
He was down a set and a break and then changed the momentum completely.
He continuously took aim at Roger's backhand and made him run and stretch uncomfortably.
Federer was left discouraged, though he showed that he had learned from the loss by winning the French Open for the first and only time immediately afterward.
This match certainly could have been the end of Novak's several-month winning streak.
Andy Murray served for the match and was two points from completing the upset, but Novak's guile and fight kept him in the match.
He seemed to be hurting near the end and was playing much worse tennis than he had in the opening set.
Murray played Novak's game and was executing his plan brilliantly, but once the tiebreak began, there was no looking back for the higher-ranked player.
He won this semifinal match-up and went on to beat Rafa in the final for the second time in a row on clay.
It seemed that Novak's run might have come to an end in this match (which occurred prior to the encounter with Murray in Rome).
The King of Clay endured a slow start but he managed to fight his way back to 5-5 in the first set. Then, Novak capitalized on his opportunities and suddenly he seemed to be in control of the affair.
His forehand to Nadal's backhand worked well, as did his retrieval abilities on the backhand wing where the Spaniard is known to direct his loopy crosscourt forehands.
Novak went toe-to-toe with his rival and secured his first clay win over him in straight sets.
He did not stop there, as he won Rome against Rafa and sought to do similarly in the French Open, where he was stopped one match short of doing so by Roger Federer.
Overall, he feels comfortable playing long points, but he needs to move his opponents around the court more than he typically does if he is to capture a double feat (knocking off two Top-10 opponents in the second week) and the non-calendar Career Slam.
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