Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open 2011 – Day Nine
Novak Djokovic has recalled the first time he beat the ‘King of Clay’ Rafael Nadal on the latter’s favorite surface. It happened in the final of the 2011 Mutua Madrid Open, with the Serb emerging triumphant in straight sets.
The World No. 1’s victory against Nadal on the terre battue came at the 10th time of asking. More than a decade later, Djokovic has fond memories of that day. During a recent interaction with Marca about his favorite Madrid Open memory, the 34-year-old was quick to recall his win over Nadal in the 2011 final.
“My favorite memory is when I won here against Nadal. The first time I had beaten him on his favourite surface. It was in 2011, and I won that Mutua Madrid Open, which was very special for me,” Djokovic said.
It was the first of Djokovic’s seven consecutive victories (including two on clay) against the Spaniard – all in tournament finals. Only a week after his Madrid triumph, Djokovic bested Nadal again on clay – this time in the Rome Masters final.
That year, Djokovic ascended to the top of the men’s singles rankings for the very first time in his career.
How has Novak Djokovic fared against Rafael Nadal on clay?
Novak Djokovic has enjoyed moderate success against Rafael Nadal on clay
Although he enjoys a slender 30-28 head-to-head advantage, Novak Djokovic doesn’t enjoy a winning record against Rafael Nadal on clay. Djokovic has won only eight of his 27 meetings against the Spaniard on the surface.
However, four of those victories have come in tournament finals (2011 Madrid, 2011 Rome, 2013 Monte-Carlo and 2014 Rome). Two other wins have come at Roland Garros, where Djokovic is the only player to beat the 13-time champion twice at the tournament.
The Serb came close to beating Nadal at Roland Garros in an epic semifinal in 2013. However, he squandered multiple break points in the fourth set and a break lead in the fifth as Nadal went on to win his eighth title at the tournament. Two years later, though, Djokovic would have his revenge.
He emerged triumphant in straight sets as Nadal lost at Roland Garros for only the second time in 72 matches. Last year, Djokovic dealt the left-hander more heartbreak at his favorite tournament, winning a four-set semifinal to deny Nadal the opportunity to win a record-extending 14th Roland Garros title.
Novak Djokovic went on to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas from two sets down to become the first player to win the career Grand Slam twice in the Open Era. Later in the year, a defeat to Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final denied Djokovic the opportunity to win the calendar year Grand Slam.