Sony Open | men’s final

Novak Djokovic defeats Rafael Nadal to win 4th Sony Open title


Novak Djokovic clinched his fourth title on the purple courts of the Sony Open, while keeping his ‘biggest rival,’ Rafael Nadal, from winning his first.

Novak Djokovic reacts after defeating Rafael Nadal to win the men’s final of the Sony Open in Key Biscayne on March 30, 2014.
Novak Djokovic reacts after defeating Rafael Nadal to win the men’s final of the Sony Open in Key Biscayne on March 30, 2014.
Al Diaz / Staff Photo

The biggest challenge Novak Djokovic faced en route to winning his fourth Sony Open title on Sunday might have been managing to get through his post-match on-court interview without getting the celebratory bubbles, sent off prematurely, in his mouth.

It certainly wasn’t the top-ranked Rafael Nadal, normally a diligent obstacle in their long-standing rivalry that the Spaniard still leads 22-18, providing much provocation in Djokovic’s imposing 6-3, 6-3 victory.

Djokovic joins Roger Federer, the guy he beat for the Indian Wells trophy two weeks ago, as the only other player to twice win the abutting Indian Wells and Miami tournaments in the same year. Federer orchestrated that feat in 2005-’06, Djokovic was successful in 2011 and ’14.

“That was a great confidence boost for me that I carried on in this week, and this tournament has been perfect from the beginning to the end,” said Djokovic, of winning his first two titles of the year. “The matches that I have played I played really well, and I elevated my game as the tournament progressed.

“The best performance of the tournament came in the right moment on Sunday against the biggest rival.”

Apparently palm trees, beaches and sunny skies — three of Miami’s top drawing cards — suit Djokovic.

The Serbian’s four titles on the purple courts here (2007, ’11, ’12, ’14) puts him right behind Andre Agassi’s record six trophies for men at this event. Djokovic’s now won 18 of his last 19 matches played at the Sony with his only loss coming against Tommy Haas in the fourth-round last year.

Both players came to the final having been gifted with semifinal walkovers, which was an unprecedented Open Era occurrence at an ATP-level tournament. It turned out to be Djokovic’s second match where the opponent failed to show— his third-round opponent also withdrew.

Djokovic hadn’t played a match in three days and Nadal for two days when they walked on court for the final.

The match began on an even plane through the first five games with Nadal even having one break point — his only of the match — at 30-40 in the first game. Thereafter, Nadal was stymied in the 1 hour 23 minute match.

So what exactly did Djokovic do right? Basically he was perfection personified.

He served better. He returned serve better. He hit his groundstrokes with more power and pizazz. He even ventured forward to the net, a strategy he doesn’t often employ, but did impressively well.

In fact, Djokovic, who broke Nadal’s serve in the sixth game of the first set, and the first and ninth game of the second set, ended the exciting final point by scooping up a forehand half-volley for the win.

“Just the fact that I’m playing against Nadal and playing in the finals, fighting for trophy is already a huge motivation and responsibility to try to perform my best,” Djokovic said. “I didn’t have any letdowns throughout the match.

“I was in a very high level: serve, backhand, crosscourt, forehand. I have done everything right and I’m thrilled with my performance.”

As great as Djokovic played, it’s hard to ignore that Nadal was not quite himself.

A classy guy to the core, Nadal was unwilling to admit he felt anything but 100 percent in the match. But it seemed fairly evident he was struggling with his movement. At times, Nadal didn’t chase down balls he rarely would let go by without a concerted effort to hit.

“First few games I was there,” Nadal said. “I had the break point, and I played a few games, and a few games and a few points the right way, the right intensity.

“But for the rest, easy to analyze. The opponent was better than me. He was better than me in everything.”

For Nadal, it was a fourth final disappointment in Miami, one of only three of the exclusive nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments he’s yet to win, along with Shanghai and the Paris Indoors.

But not to worry. The world No. 1 Nadal will be back with the wish he can reach the final again before 2017.

“I did the final [here] every three years since I start my career, 2005, 2008, 2011 and ’14,” Nadal said. “Is good news that I am having a very long career. Maybe, if I’m able to play the finals before three years I will have more chances because seems like every three years not the right spot to win the tournament if I am in the final, no?”

In the women’s doubles, the wildcard team of Martina Hingis and Sabine Lisicki, who Hingis coaches, captured a 4-6, 6-4 [10-5] win over Russian second seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina.

Hingis, 33, a former five-time Grand Slam singles champion, last won a WTA title when she teamed with Maria Kirilenko to win the 2007 Doha, Qatar doubles trophy.

“Obviously, it’s very exciting when you convert the match point and you’re like, ‘Yes, we did it,’” Hingis said.

Read more Tennis stories from the Miami Herald

  • Errani bows out in Tokyo

    Sara Errani's stay in Tokyo was a short one, as the fifth-seeded Italian was upset by New Zealand qualifier Marina Erakovic Tuesday in the first round of the Pan Pacific Open.

  • Top seed Radwanska wins Korea Open opener

    Top-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland began her title defense in comfortable fashion by beating Polona Hercog of Slovenia 6-3, 6-3 in the Korea Open on Tuesday.

  • Stosur, Stephens lose to continue early surprises in China

    Samantha Stosur of Australia and American Sloane Stephens continued the surge of seeded players shown early exits at the Guangzhou International tennis tournament.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category