Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic titles expose massive lie in men's tennis

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor

For months now we’ve been hearing about how there’s a changing of the guard happening in men’s tennis, with the young brigade set to usurp the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

But with title triumphs less than 24 hours apart over the weekend, Nadal and Djokovic proved that’s nowhere close to being true.

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World No.2 Nadal captured his first ATP Tour title of 2020, easily defeating unseeded Taylor Fritz in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2, in the final of the Mexico Open on Saturday.

The 33-year-old Nadal, playing in his first tournament since losing in the quarter-finals at the Australian Open last month, didn't drop a set all week and improved to 19-2 all-time at this event.

He nabbed his third Mexico Open title to go with victories in 2013 and 2005.

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic with their titles. Image: Getty

“I couldn’t be happier. I played a great event from the beginning to the end,” Nadal said.

“Acapulco was the first big title that I won in my career, so to be able to stay here after 15 years is amazing.

“I can't thank enough the people who make me feel at home every single time.”

Nadal wasted no time figuring out Fritz's game in the first career meeting between the two.

The 19-time grand slam winner made eight unforced errors and needed just one ace but it came in the final game of the second set to get to championship point.

Nadal closed it out with a blistering serve that handcuffed Fritz and gave Nadal his 85th career title.

Djokovic smacks down Tsitsipas

Nadal ceded the World No.1 ranking to Djokovic after the Australian Open, where the Serb won a record eighth title.

Nadal could have regained the top spot with a win in Acapulco, but he also needed Djokovic to fail to reach the final in this week's Dubai event.

Djokovic extended his win streak to 21 matches by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 earlier Saturday to lift the Dubai trophy.

Djokovic is now on an 18-0 winning run this season, and 21-0 overall since late 2019, as he ended an eight-match win streak for his Greek opponent, champion last weekend in Marseille.

Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas after the Dubai final. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

Djokovic claimed his third trophy of 2020 after helping Serbia to the ATP Cup and winning an eighth Australian Open.

It is the seventh time that the 32-year-old Djokovic has won more than 20 matches on the trot.

His record is 43 set in 2010 and 2011 with a run of 28 his next best, achieved on two occasions in 2013-14 and 2015.

“This has been one of the best starts of all seasons I've had. I feel great on the court,” said Djokovic.

“I'm just grateful that I'm playing well, feeling well. I've won many matches now in a row. I'll try to keep that run going.”

No signs of Nadal and Djokovic slowing down

According to former British player and ATP commentator Naomi Cavaday, the old boys are showing no signs of slowing down.

“They have had injuries to deal with and all sorts going on,” Cavaday said after Nadal’s win.

“But they just keep going and are still at the very top of the game.

“And I think if anybody wants to displace them they are going to have to absolutely smash the door down.

“There is no point in knocking and waiting politely for them to answer. They are not interested.”

Dominic Thiem - the man many see as the leading young gun on the tour - will pass an injured Federer and become World No.3 when the ATP rankings are updated on Monday.

However he will still be 2805 points behind Nadal in second spot - emphasising the divide between the best and the rest.

with AFP