Miami twice for Djokovic
Red-hot Serbian makes it 24 straight victories in 2011
Last Updated: April 4, 2011 8:25am
Djokovic: still unbeaten in 2011
Novak Djokovic maintained his astonishing unbeaten run in 2011 with a 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4) win over Rafael Nadal in the final of the Sony Ericsson Open.
"It was one of the best finals I ever played in in my life and it's always a great pleasure and honour playing against Rafa who is a good friend and a great champion"
Novak Djokovic Quotes of the week
The in-form Serbian battled back from a lacklustre first set to claim his 24th straight win and a fourth title already this year.
It is his second Masters crown in the space of a fortnight, his success in Key Biscayne coming after he had already beaten Nadal in the final at Indian Wells.
To keep his calendar streak alive he had to outlast the tough Spaniard in a stunning third set that went all the way to a dramatic tie-break.
Djokovic eventually came out on top after three hours and 21 minutes on court to reign at Crandon Park for the second time in his career; he previously won the event back in 2007, while he was a losing finalist two years ago.
"It was very close and it really could have gone either way," he said.
"It was one of the best finals I ever played in my life and it's always a great pleasure and honour playing against Rafa who is a good friend and a great champion."
Yet the world number two had looked far from perfect in the first set, dropping his first service game of the tournament to quickly fall 2-1 behind.
Nadal staved off the threat of two break points to move further clear and then broke for a second time, putting him 5-1 in front in a hurry.
Although Djokovic - who struggled to get to grips with the windy conditions in the early stages - pulled one break back, he couldn't stop his opponent closing out the set at the second time of asking.
However, the Australian Open champion showed champion spirit to scorch 3-0 ahead at the start of the next set and after a wonderful lob helped him go 4-1 up, he kept his serve together to send the match into a decider.
If the opening two sets had been steady to watch then the third proved to be must-see viewing.
Both players appeared at different times to be on top; Nadal overcame a wobbly first service game to then race 0-30 ahead in the fourth.
Djokovic, though, simply refused to be beaten, his ability to counter-attack keeping him alive. He also showed a cool head to hold his serve in the 12th game, meaning a breaker was needed to find the 2011 champion.
There were five mini-breaks before Nadal then left himself with a mountain to climb with two wide shots when placed under extreme pressure.
A further break put Djokovic 6-2 ahead and although he was briefly made to wait, a superb forehand winner made sure his amazing run of form goes on for a little longer just yet.
"What Novak is doing at the start of this season is something difficult to repeat so well done to him and his team," admitted Nadal, who will hope for better fortunes now the season switches to clay, his preferred surface.
"Today I had some good chances but Novak was too good for me this afternoon."