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Against Nadal, Djokovic was treated by a trainer after the third set and twice more during the fourth for pain in a muscle between his ribs, an aching back and leg cramps.

“To be honest, there was doubts in my mind after the third set,” he said Tuesday, “because physically I wasn’t there. I wasn’t fresh.”

His serve speeds dropped from around 120 mph to the 90s _ “quite weak,” Djokovic called it _ during the fourth set, which actually might have thrown off Nadal.

“I guess he was a little confused as well _ that’s what I felt _ on his return games because he was expecting the ball to come faster,” Djokovic explained.

He improved to 6-0 against Nadal this year, all in tournament finals, and on three different surfaces: hard courts, clay and grass. Djokovic said those victories give him a “psychological advantage” against a player who preceded him atop the rankings and has 10 Grand Slam titles of his own.

Djokovic is the sixth man in the 44-year Open era to win three major titles in a single season. Nadal did it in 2010; Federer in 2004, 2006 and 2007.

“Maybe this is my year. Roger had a couple of years where he was winning two or three Slams. Rafa had that last year. … God knows what’s going to be next year,” Djokovic said, shaking his head.

Then, thinking about all that he’s accomplished and all that is to come, he chuckled as he said: “This is going to be extremely hard to repeat, that’s for sure.”


Howard Fendrich covers tennis for The Associated Press. Follow him at or write to him at hfendrich(at)