Djokovic downs Nadal in tense season closer

Novak Djokovic on Monday beat Word No.1 Rafa Nadal in the final of the ATP World Tour Finals, providing a frustrating end note to what was a close to perfect year for the man from Spain.

Djokovic downs Nadal in tense season closer
The defeat for Rafa Nadal in London meant the Spanish star ended his stellar year with a whimper rather than a bang. Photo: Glyn Kirk/AFP

Djokovic won the prestigious season-ending Tour Finals for the third time with a dominant 6-3 6-4 victory over world No.1 Rafael Nadal at the O2 Arena in London.

The 26-year-old has played some of the best tennis of his life since losing the US Open final against Nadal in September and Monday's win was his 22nd successive match victory — a run that has brought him titles in Beijing, Shanghai, Paris and now London.

But, although Djokovic could be forgiven for wanting a well-earned holiday after such an intense period, the world No.2 has no time to rest on his laurels because he will now fly home to Belgrade to prepare for the Davis Cup final clash with holders Czech Republic, which starts on Friday.

Serbia's most recent Davis Cup win came in 2010 and Djokovic would dearly love to repeat that triumph.

"It's a fact that it's been a very long season for me and I'm exhausted in every way. But God knows if we're going to have as a country another opportunity like this to win a Davis Cup title at home," Djokovic said.

"We have very tough opponents, the defending champions … I'm going to do my best to recover the next three days and get ready for that one."

Once Djokovic has finished with his national service, he will finally be able to put his feet up and reflect on a year that brought him joy and despair in equal measure.

After winning the Australian Open for the fourth time in January, he suffered a frustrating semi-final loss to Nadal at the French Open – the one grand slam title he has never won.

That was followed by a Wimbledon final defeat against Andy Murray and another painful loss at Nadal's hands in the US Open that eventually led to the Spaniard replacing Djokovic at the top of the world rankings.

To a less mentally tough character, those setbacks could have been devastating, but for Djokovic they have simply provided the motivation for his late-season resurgence.

"Next to the run that I had in 2011, this is definitely the second best I've had," Djokovic said.

"For me, the most positive thing is the fact that I managed to regroup after a few big losses to Nadal, especially at Roland Garros and the US Open final.

"After that I needed to take things slowly and analyse what I did wrong in the matches against him, to understand what I need to do in order to win against him.

"I've worked harder and become an even more skilful player. I've worked on a few things in my game and serve.

"I think the results are showing."

It was a frustrating end to Nadal's year, but nothing could detract from his superb return from a career-threatening knee injury.

"This has for sure been the most emotional season of my career," said Nadal.

"Novak played much better than me today and I had no chance."

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IN PICS: Rafa Nadal weds childhood sweetheart in Mallorca

Rafael Nadal married his partner of 14 years, Xisca Perello, at a castle in Mallorca on Saturday.

IN PICS: Rafa Nadal weds childhood sweetheart in Mallorca
Photo: Fundacion Rafa Nadal

Nadal, the 19-time grand slam champion, tied the knot with 31-year-old Perello at La Fortaleza, with a reported 350 guests invited to a private ceremony.

Juan Carlos I, the king of Spain from 1975 to 2014, was believed to be among those in attendance while the Michelin-star chef, Quique Dacosta, was reportedly in charge of catering.

The newlyweds shared some official photos of the day through the Fundacion Rafa Nadal, the NGO the tennis player set up on Mallorca

Photo: Fundacion Rafa Nadal


Nadal, 33, met his wife through his younger sister Maribel, a childhood friend of Perello.

They started dating in 2005 when they were both teenagers after meeting several years before.

Photo: Fundacion Rafa Nadal

The couple announced their engagement in January and revealed that the tennis ace had proposed on a romantic trip to Rome last May but chose to  keep the news private.


Perello, has always shunned the media spotlight although she has been pictured courtside at some of Nadal’s biggest matches.

Nadal kisses Perello after winning against France's Gael Monfils in the final tennis match at the Monte-Carlo ATP Masters Series Tournament in Monaco on April 17, 2016. 

But she isn't always there. In a 2011 interview with The Daily Telegraph, Perello explained: “He needs his space when he is competing, and just the idea of me hanging around and waiting on his needs all day tires me out.

“It would asphyxiate me. And then he would have to be worrying about me… No. If I followed him everywhere, I think there's a risk we might stop getting along.”

She works in insurance and is a business graduate but also serves as project director for the Rafa Nadal Foundation, the charity which Nadal launched almost ten years ago.

In an interview with sports newspaper Marca last year, the world number 2 hinted that he wouldn't be ready to start a family until he had retired from tennis. 

'I keep my commitment with tennis and my happiness', Nadal told Marca. 'I enjoy both in tennis and outside it. I have a girlfriend too and I am not alone to take decisions.

“Having family? I don't know, things are not easy to be predict. At this age, I thought that I would have already been a former player and that I would have started a family.”

READ ALSO: Rafa Nadal donates €1million to help victims of Mallorca floods