After being crushed by Novak Djokovic, 6-1, 6-2, in the Qatar Open final on Saturday, Rafael Nadal admired the Serb’s handiwork.
“I played against a player who did everything perfect,” Nadal said. “I know nobody playing tennis like this ever. Since I know this sport, I never saw somebody playing at this level.
“When I say perfect, it’s not one thing in particular. It’s everything. If not, it’s not perfect.”
Even Djokovic impressed himself.
“It did feel as close to perfection as it could get,” said Djokovic, who didn’t drop a set all week.
“From the first to last point I managed to impose my own tactical strategy. I came out on the court with the right intention, right intensity, and with a great deal of confidence I carried from the last season.”
This marked his 16th straight final - and 12th title - since he lost in the Qatar Open quarterfinals last year.
Going into the final, Djokovic and Nadal were tied at 23 wins apiece in their career matchups, the most between any players in ATP history.
At 24-23, Djokovic holds a career edge against the Spaniard for the first time. Djokovic has won nine of their last 10 matches.
This marked Djokovic’s 16th straight final - and 12th title - since he lost in the Qatar Open quarterfinals last year.
Djokovic posted 30 winners to only nine for Nadal in the 73-minute match.
Djokovic broke Nadal’s serve twice in each set, and saved the one break point he faced in the opening game of the match.
“Everything was going well,” Djokovic said. “I could swing freely. Any shot I did just felt so comfortable. There are those days when you see the ball like it’s a watermelon, and this was that kind of day.”
Nadal, who was playing in his 99th career final, said he’s happy with his progress since coming back from a long injury layoff at last year’s Qatar Open.
Nevertheless, the 14-time Grand Slam champion wouldn’t predict when he’d win another Grand Slam title. “Maybe I am three weeks away, maybe I am five months away, or six or nine, or maybe I am forever away,” Nadal said. “You never know how these things go.”