Wednesday’s 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 quarterfinal beatdown at the hands of Novak Djokovic was far less surprising. Nadal has been struggling on clay for the first time in his career, while Djokovic is playing the best tennis of his life.
“It’s a special thing, it’s a special match,” Djokovic said looking happy but weary. “Playing against Rafa on a court he has lost only once, it’s not easy to execute the plan you prepared for the match. But I did that. It’s definitely a big win. It’s a match I will remember for a long time.”
The funny/sad thing? Nadal — the ultimate fighter — almost seemed to quit in the ragged third set. The match ended with a double fault. Nadal, who has one of the most feared forehands in the game, had exactly three forehand winners. Djokovic had 20 more. The match required 2 hours, 26 minutes, but it felt much, much faster.