‘Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic played great match,’ Roger Federer recalls

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Following a great run in 2019 and a top-3 spot alongside Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer was ready for another strong campaign in 2020. Arriving in Melbourne early, Roger prepared for the season’s first Major, seeking the third Australian Open crown in the last four years.

Federer had opted to skip the ATP Cup and stay on the practice court ahead of Melbourne. Roger watched some action from Sydney, where Djokovic defeated Nadal 6-2, 7-6 in the ATP Cup final to keep Serbia alive ahead of the doubles rubber.

Roger admitted Nadal and Djokovic had already reached a high level despite the early days of the season, stating it would be tough to beat them at the Australian Open. Playing against each other for the 55th time, Novak scored the 29th victory over world no.

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1 and the ninth straight on the hard courts! Novak scored a 6-2, 7-6 triumph in an hour and 55 minutes, delivering the sixth consecutive victory of the season and reducing the deficit to Nadal on the ATP ranking list ahead of the Australian Open.

Djokovic dominated the first set before Nadal responded in the second, staying in touch with the Serb and missing a chance to break him at 3-2. Firing 12 aces, Novak dropped only 14 points in ten service games, repelling five break chances and stealing Rafa’s serve twice in the opener for the best start.

Rafa served better in the second set and followed Novak’s pace after erasing two late break points, only to fall in the tie break and send the Serb over the top. Firing from all cylinders, Djokovic converted the third break chance in the encounter’s first game when Nadal’s slice found the net and cemented it with a service winner after deuce in game two.

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic

Roger Federer watched the clash between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in 2020.

Battling for every point, Rafa fended off two break chances in the fifth game to remain within one break deficit before Novak landed another deep return that carried him towards a 5-2 lead.

Serving for the set, the Serb blasted four service winners to take it 6-2 after 39 minutes, hoping for more in the rest of the clash. Raising his level in set number two, Rafa lost only three points in the opening three service games and earned five break opportunities at 3-2 that could have given him momentum.

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Producing bold and brave hitting, Djokovic repelled them to remain on the positive side. He served well in the rest of the set and had a chance to seal the deal in the 11th game when Nadal faced two break chances. With his back pushed against the wall, Rafa fired two winners to get out of jail and reach a tie break, a must-winning one for him.

The Spaniard moved 3-2 up with a backhand down the line winner, and the Serb responded with two winners that pushed him 4-3 in front. Novak gained another mini-break with a backhand down the line winner in the ninth point to open a 5-4 gap.

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Nadal sprayed a backhand slice error to face two match points and netted a forehand at 4-6 to hand the victory to Novak ahead of the deciding doubles encounter. “I’ve trained long and hard in the off-season, and I did not have any setbacks, which is crucial.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are already showing great signs of form at such an early season stage. I watched a bit of their ATP Cup match and thought it was great. Both guys are always tough to beat when they are injury-free,” Roger Federer said.