Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic in straight sets in Monte Carlo April 22, winning the title there for the eighth time running. He beat fellow Spaniard David Ferrer at the event last year. The 6-3, 6-1 match saw Nadal look dominating over the Serbian, who was struggling emotionally.
The fact that Djokovic's grandfather was buried the day before weighed heavy on the world no. 1. The two were very close, and Novak admitted he was distracted in the final.
"I definitely don't want to take anything away from Rafa's win. He was a better player," Djokovic said. "But it's a fact that I just didn't have any emotional energy left in me."
It was heartening to see Djokovic be so forthcoming. There are of course myriad benefits to being a professional athlete, but a downside is that your life is lived, to a great degree, in public view. He handled the event and the playing of the tournament with grace and emotional honesty.
"I've never been caught up in this kind of emotional situation before," Djokovic admitted. "I'm just happy to reach the finals really under these circumstances. It's been a very difficult week for me to go through mentally."
I was close to the same age as Djokovic when my grandfather, who had been a rock of strength for all of his children and grandchildren but who I was especially close to, died. He had been in a long battle with Parkinson's disease, among other ailments. I was hit hard emotionally, and am thankful that my experience didn't have to be played out in the public eye.
Not a win likely to be so easily repeated
It was the first win for Nadal over Djokovic since 2010. The Serbian has beaten Nadal in three consecutive wins in Grand Slam event finals, and gave the Spaniard his only defeat on clay in 2011. His mastery over Nadal isn't likely to be reversed with one event. Nadal got another moment in the sun in Monte Carlo, and he should savor it.
United States past Ukraine in Fed Cup
The U.S. moved past Ukraine in Kharkiv to put the team into the World Group for 2013, and relegate Ukraine down to World Group II. A win by Serena Williams over a valiant effort from the 110th-ranked Lesia Tsurenko gave the United States an insurmountable 3-0 lead.
In the main play for 2012, Serbia downed Russia to earn a place in the final against the Czech Republic, who will be in the final for the second consecutive year.
Jeff Musall is a longtime fan and player of tennis. He began following the professional game as a kid back in the '70s,watching the greats of that era.
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- Novak Djokovic
- Rafael Nadal