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Djokovic unbeaten entering clay season
It’s not Federer, who slipped to third in the rankings last month and then played poorly in a semifinal loss to Nadal at Key Biscayne. This year Federer is 0-3 against Djokovic and 0-2 against Nadal, and he hasn’t won a clay title since his historic victory at the French Open in 2009.
Djokovic has won four of his 22 career titles on clay, the most recent coming in his native Belgrade two years ago. But he yet to reach a final at the French Open, losing in the quarterfinals last year and in the third round in 2009.
“Clay courts are where I haven’t had a lot of success,” he conceded.
With penetrating groundstrokes, one of the best drop shots in tennis and tremendous defensive skills, Djokovic has the tools to win on the surface that demands the most patience and shotmaking variety.
Lack of fitness was often Djokovic’s downfall in the past. Last year he retired during a quarterfinal match at Belgrade because of breathing problems, then skipped Madrid’s clay event. hoarse
But it was Nadal, not Djokovic, hunched over with fatigue late in their match Sunday. And it’s Djokovic who takes a winning streak into the clay season.
“Rafa is definitely the best player in the world,” Djokovic said. “If I want to have the No. 1 ranking, I need to play consistently well throughout the whole year. We all know that clay is his favorite surface, and obviously where he plays his best. But this is going to give a lot of confidence boost for the clay season.”
For Djokovic, it starts next week at Monte Carlo, a tournament Nadal has won the past six years. Nadal is 19-4 in 2011 and said the early season swing in the United States was the best of his career, even though he’s 0-2 in finals this year.
That could soon change.
“I’m seriously happy about how I’m playing,” Nadal said. “Normally when I play well on clay I have a little bit more advantage, so let’s see.”
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