For the third time in his career, Novak Djokovic has won the ATP World Tour Finals to end the season.
The 26-year-old defeated Rafael Nadal in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, on Monday in London.
It was a great display of tennis from the world's No. 2. Even if he won't have the No. 1 ranking at the end of the 2013 season, Djokovic made a strong case that he's the best tennis player in the world. He was so controlled on Monday night and was almost robotic in the way he deflected Nadal's best shots.
Who deserves the No. 1 ranking more?
The moment of the match came in the eighth game of the first set.
Djokovic had a 4-3 lead in the set and was up a break point. Nadal came to the net and hit a great volley into in the corner to the Djoker's forehand. Not only was Djokovic able to track it down, but he also returned with a great lob, which pushed Nadal back to the baseline and allowed Djokovic to come to the net.
Nadal would get to the net as well, and the two exchanged some quick volleys. The Serb eventually came out on top with a powerful forehand volley.
TennisTV captured just how important that point was for Djokovic.
It was a great example of how the Serb was simply better on the day. He ran down shots he had no business running down, took Nadal's best blows and then came up with some magic of his own. Once Djokovic won that point to go up 5-3 in the first set, it was clear the match was his to lose.
Service play also was a big decider in the first set. Djokovic had two aces, which was impressive considering how hard aces have been to come by in the O2 Arena. He lost just 11 of his 30 points on serve, compared to 13-of-26 for Nadal, according to the ATP World Tour.
The world's No. 1 also had four double faults in that first set, which Brad Gilbert pointed out led to Nadal trying too hard to get his serves in.
Not sure the last ime i can remember Rafa serving 4 dubs in a set but he is going after his serv way more, hence missing more of them— Brad Gilbert (@bgtennisnation) November 11, 2013
The second set was more of the same from Djokovic. Nadal made it interesting toward the end, failing to go quietly into the London night. But the Djoker was simply displaying too much defense and too much countering.
Although Nadal's serve improved, Djokovic didn't surrender even a single break-point opportunity and won 21 of his 24 points on serve. You can't win a set if you don't break the other player's serve
With the win, Djokovic has left the blueprint for how to beat Nadal. The problem is, he's pretty much the only player in the world who can follow that blueprint to a T.
Almost nobody can move as well as Djokovic. In addition, his defense is unparalleled on the tour. That means he can track down Nadal's best shots on hard courts and then answer back with a shot that puts him on the offensive. This prevents his opponent any chance to breathe.
Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times broke down how Djokovic's defense was affecting Nadal.
Djokovic's defense forcing Nadal into a lot of mistakes (and keeping his winners very low) and Novak breaks for a 2-1 lead in the second.— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) November 11, 2013
Gilbert added some pointed analysis as well.
Djoker on this court can defuse just about any offense his movement and defenseive skills are a think of buety to watch at court side— Brad Gilbert (@bgtennisnation) November 11, 2013
In the end, the match was notable for how one-sided it was. Sports Illustrated's Beyond the Baseline summed up the final well.
This is kind of a beatdown. #FinalShowdown— Beyond The Baseline (@SI_BTBaseline) November 11, 2013
At almost no point did Nadal look like he was going to win this match. Djokovic jumped on him early and didn't let up, suffocating Nadal with his effective defense.
Tennis.com's Hannah Wilks was there to put this match in perspective.
This is one point away from being a rout. They can't all be classics. Otherwise we'd have to call them something else.— Hannah Wilks (@newballsplease) November 11, 2013
This was the latest entry in what has become the best rivalry in tennis and one of the best fans have ever seen. This is what you want to see—the two best players in the world going right at one another. Although Djokovic can't overtake Nadal as the world's No. 1, he got a little measure of revenge for his U.S. Open loss to the Spaniard.
With the win, Djokovic moves to 17-22 against Nadal. He's taken the last two meetings, winning in October's China Open final.
This is a great way to end the 2013 season, with the No. 2 beating the No. 1. Will Nadal keep his crown in 2014, or will Djokovic ascend to the throne once again?