Monte-Carlo Masters 2013: Novak Djokovic Defeats Rafael Nadal to Win Title

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 21, 2013

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - APRIL 21: Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a forehand against Rafael Nadal of Spain in their final match during day eight of the ATP Monte Carlo Masters,at Monte-Carlo Sporting Club on April 21, 2013 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic came out strong and never relented against Rafael Nadal to win the Monte-Carlo Masters 6-2, 7-6 (7-1).

The top player in the world proved why he carries that title on Sunday by topping the King of Clay on his favorite surface. He came in with an injured ankle, but he handed Nadal his first loss in 47 matches at Monaco after winning this event eight times in a row.

Djokovic won the first five games in the first set to almost shut out his opponent. He was dominant on defense, winning 46 percent of first-return points and eight of 10 on the second serve. Nadal was able to avoid the bagel by winning two games, but Djokovic controlled the opening set.

The second set was much more of what fans expected coming into the match. The two athletes had extended rallies on many points, and they eventually went to a tiebreak after splitting the 12 games. 

In the tiebreak, it was all Djokovic as he won 7-1 to win the set and the championship. 

Every time it seemed like Nadal would get momentum, his opponent came back with an answer to regain the energy of the match.

The win is certain to give Djokovic confidence after beating Nadal for the first time in the last four head-to-head meetings. Winning on clay makes the victory that much sweeter.

Of course, neither competitor had an easy road to the final. Djokovic only faced one seeded player prior to Nadal, but No. 14 Juan Monaco took the top seed to three sets. This was after the Serbian needed three sets to defeat Mikhail Youzhny in his first match.

Nadal also struggled at times, specifically against Grigor Dimitrov in the quarterfinal. He then went on to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semifinal to reach the final round. 

Still, the two created the final that everyone was looking for, and there was little doubt as to who was the better man on the day.

This is the third championship of the season for Djokovic after winning at the Australian Open and in Dubai. He is attempting to win the career Grand Slam next month at the French Open, a result that seems very possible after this impressive tournament run.

Meanwhile, Nadal is technically still recovering from a knee injury that kept him out of competition for seven months, although he had looked strong coming into this match. He already has three tournament wins, and his only other loss was to Horacio Zeballos at the ATP VTR Open.

The Spanish star is certain to bring his best effort to Roland Garros, where he has won an incredible seven times in the past eight years. With the way these two top competitors are performing, it is obvious that the rest of the tennis season will be exciting to watch.