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Ask any fan which match-up they would like to see in Sunday’s final, and most will reply “Nadal – Djokovic”. Those two are head and shoulders above the competition at the moment and their rivalry came to a head with the Serb’s win in the Madrid final last weekend.
Djokovic is now closing in on the no.1 spot which Nadal has made his own since last summer, and is on an incredible run of 32 consecutive wins this year, after finishing 2010 with a bang by leading Serbia to victory in the Davis Cup final in Belgrade – a moment which he sees as a turning point in his career.
“The Davis Cup final against France gave me a lot of confidence and it was the start of this great run that I am in,” he grinned. “It was a huge match for us – a historic match – and it gave me a lot of energy for this state in my life. Especially the last day on Sunday when we won the Davis Cup title – there is nothing that can compare with the feeling that I had there. Since that moment I been very much more motivated and eager to get back onto the court and win more matches.”
“My services is now working for me for me,” said the no.2 seed when asked how his game had changed in recent months. “ I was struggling last year on it and it is an important element of my game and I was working really hard, so that hard work is paying off now. With a good service you can get some free points which is really important in professional tennis. I am trying to think about winning every match and focus on being professional, and I have a great team of people around me who are doing their job great and making my life on the court easier.”
Djokovic mentioned earlier in the season that he had cut gluten out of his diet and reaped the benefits, but he played down that element in his current success. “I do not identify my success with the diet that I have. I identify my success with the maturity that I have right now as a person and as a player and everything else has come together after a long four or five year process of learning and getting experience and just working hard and hoping that all of this works out, and this is what is going on now. I do have some changes as I mentioned but this is not something that changed me completely – I have always had the quality and now I believe this more and I am more stable emotionally, and I just know what to do. I did not expect to win every match in the first four or five months of 2011 but as I said before, it has been a very long learning process for me and a lot of hard work – a lot of dedication and every single day of my life I have been dedicated to the sport and now it is coming back.”