Djokovic downs Nadal in tense season closer

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
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 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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