Rafael Nadal recalls Novak Djokovic loss: 'I needed extra energy to stay in touch'

“I needed extra energy to keep in touch”

As expected, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were the players to beat in Rome 2014. Two great rivals overcame all obstacles to secure the title shot. Novak went all out, beating Rafa 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in two hours and 19 minutes for his third title in Rome and a massive boost ahead of Roland Garros.

Roma was Novak’s 19th Masters 1000 title, moving two behind Roger Federer and closing the gap on Nadal. It was their 41st meeting and the 19th triumph for the Serb, the 15th in the last 23 duels and the fourth in a row.

Djokovic took a 12-9 lead in the ATP final and 7-5 in the Masters 1000 title fight. Novak defeated Rafa for the fourth time in 17 games on clay, coming from a set to oust the Spaniard for the fourth time. Djokovic won 19 points more and had the upper hand in sets two and three after hitting 45 winners and 30 unforced errors.

Nadal grabbed four returns, which wasn’t enough to protect him. Novak grabbed almost half of the return points and converted them into six breaks from 14 opportunities. Djokovic outpaced Nadal in the shortest rallies by up to four shots and defeated him in the more advanced ones to lift the trophy.

Despite not playing at his best, Rafa gave 120% to stay in touch and challenge the world no. 2. The Spaniard pulled the break back mid-decider before the Serb shifted into higher gear and took home the win.

Nadal said he needed the extra energy in the closing stages to keep in touch with Djokovic, which his legs couldn’t allow him to do.

Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in the Rome 2014 final.

“It’s hard for everyone to beat Novak, not just me.

He’s one of the best players in the world and losing against him is normal. I played well in some places and had my chances. I needed the extra energy to stay in touch with him for another ball or two at crucial moments, but my legs couldn’t take it after a tough week.

Novak had an early advantage in the rallies and it was difficult for me to prepare for the shot and change the momentum of the point. I could do better but I’m still happy with my performance. I played a final this week and scored 600 points; it is a good result.

I’ve defeated impressive rivals like Andy Murray and Grigor Dimitrov and stayed in touch with Novak. I feel better about my chances at Roland Garros than I did a week ago. I played well to take a 4-1 lead in the first set and then he started playing great.

I needed more fuel to resist Novak at 3-3 in the deciding set, the better first groundstroke and the right intensity. Novak’s return worked like a charm and pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’ve lost to Novak four times in a row and I have to work hard to prepare for our next clash,” said Rafael Nadal.

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