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Nadal v Djokovic, 2009 semi-final - Madrid Masters Classics (video)

Steven Webb in ATP Tour 19 May 2013

Novak Djokovic had never beaten Nadal on clay, and had lost to him in the finals of both the Monte Carlo and Rome Masters in 2009. 

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Their last four clash in Madrid that year was an absolute classic, a brutal war of attrition that pushed both men to the limit. Nadal looked uncharacteristically sluggish early on, and dropped the opening set. The second was much closer and went to a tie-break, in which Djokovic was a mere two points from a landmark victory. But the King of Clay snatched it and forced a memorable - and gruelling - deciding set. 

With rallies rarely lasting less than ten shots and some games going on for 15 minutes, both men lunged and leaped for every ball. Cheered on by his home crowd amid scenes of incredible tension, an exhausted Nadal saved three match points in the final set tie-break and eventually took it 11-9. 

Unsurprisingly, he had little left in the tank during the next day’s final against Roger Federer, but his epic four hour clash with Djokovic proved beyond doubt that he is one of the best fighters in the history of the sport.

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Nadal v Djokovic, 2009 semi-final - Madrid Masters Classics (video)

Rafael Nadal was pushed to the limit by Novak Djokovic in one of the most gruelling three-setters of all time.

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