x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Novak Djokovic has challenged Rafael Nadal's supremacy on clay after Monte Carlo win

The world number one's win in Monaco augurs well for his prospects on the clay tournaments head.

Novak Djokovic celebrates after stopping Rafael Nadal from a ninth title in Monaco. Jean Magnenet / AFP
Novak Djokovic celebrates after stopping Rafael Nadal from a ninth title in Monaco. Jean Magnenet / AFP

"Rafa, thank you for allowing me to win it once," Novak Djokovic said after ending Rafael Nadal's 46-match and record eight-year reign at Monte Carlo.

The world No 1 was being a tad modest, because he never really gave Nadal a chance, racing to a 5-0 lead in the first set and then a 6-2, 7-6 win. Two weeks earlier, the Serb was not even sure of playing the tournament after twisting his ankle in a Davis Cup match against United States.

"I cannot be happier than I am in this moment, knowing what I've been through the whole week, actually two weeks," Djokovic said. "If somebody told me 10 days ago I'd be winning the trophy, I wouldn't think it's so realistic, to be honest."

But people have come to expect the unexpected from Djokovic. In 2011, when Nadal was the undisputed King of Clay, Djokovic humbled the Spaniard at the Madrid and Rome Masters.

Nadal, however, came back to beat Djokovic in three clay court finals last year - Monte Carlo, Rome and Roland Garros - before taking time out to heal tendinitis in his knee. Nadal has since vowed to play more clay events and four of his five tournaments since his return have been on that surface.

Djokovic's win augurs well for clay tournaments ahead. Nadal, having already announced clay as his primary abode, will be desperate to protect his turf.

Djokovic, on the other hand, will be keen to have a good lead-up to the only grand slam he is yet to win, in Paris. That means an exciting summer ahead.

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