On June 15, 2008, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic met in the final of the prestigious Queen’s event, the second most important tournament on grass after Wimbledon. A year earlier, they fought in the Wimbledon semi-finals when Novak retired in the third set.
The Queen’s showdown fell to the wire, and Nadal knocked out Djokovic 7-6, 7-5 in 2 hours 16 minutes. It was the Spaniard’s ninth victory over the Serbian and his first ATP title on grass. Like every year since 2005, Nadal has been a player to beat on clay that spring, clinching his fourth Roland Garros title and edging closer to Roger Federer in a battle for the number-one.
1 spot. The victory over Djokovic was Nadal’s 37th in the last 40 matches, and was a real boost ahead of Wimbledon, where he finally beat Federer in the final. As the result suggests, it was a tight battle from the start, with Nadal victorious in both sets to snatch the title after taking just four more points than Djokovic.
Alongside the Legendary Trophy, they fought for their first ATP title on the fastest surface, as Novak competed in his first title match on grass. Nadal was eager to leave his Wimbledon defeat behind, beating off a slow start to win straight sets.
And Rafa saved a specific point in the first half of breaking the tie and resolving the last three games from trailing 4-5 in the second set. Long gone are the good old days of playing volleyball and this was a dynamic clash between two of the best soccer players in the world.
Made 26 longest eight-stroke rallies and only eight volleyball winners! However, they went to shoot and hit nearly 50 winners from the field, mostly from the front side. It was interesting to observe Novak’s movement as he struggled to find the right balance on the slippery surface.
The Serbian played many shots from uncomfortable positions and found himself on the ground several times and fortunately without injuries. The Serbian was more adamant about hitting his first few matches, and Nadal knew he would have to take more dangerous shots to get back on track and compete on the same level with the dangerous opponent.
Once he did, there was an entertaining clash, and they remained neck and neck until the very last point. The fact that he has beaten Djokovic eight times in the previous 11 matches helped Nadal excel in the crucial moments in both sets, even though it could have gone to Novak’s side.
They had seven aces, although we got a much better picture while checking the number of service winners, with Djokovic standing at 24 and Nadal on 20. Work as he wants.
Novak made 24 unforced errors thanks to those issues with his movement that will improve dramatically in the coming years. Rafa remained on 15 unintentional fouls, which made a huge difference in this segment considering how tight the match was.
Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic in the 2008 Queen’s Final.
Nadal made two more forced fouls (21 to 19), and those non-forced fouls cost Novak the victory, or at least a set. More than half the points finished in the shortest four-hit zone, and Nadal was 51-46 ahead, despite hitting four fewer serve winners than Novak.
The Serbian was able to make up for this shortfall in the mid-range rallies (27-22), and it all came down to those longer exchanges as Rafa won 15-11 to create a four-point gap. Djokovic started the match with a shaky service game, taking him home after ten points and one break opportunity.
He saved it with a serve and opened the 40-0 lead in the next round, came back well and forced Nadal to faults with excellent runs on the line. Novak missed his first break opportunity when his front hand fell for too long.
Rafa saves the other two to reach Satan before he strikes two forced fouls to suffer a fracture. The Serbian confirmed his lead with three winners in the third match and had more chances to steal the opponent’s serve and make a bigger difference.
The Spaniard struggled to find rhythm in the first 25 minutes. However, he saved a breakout at 0-3 with a winning forehand right after serving and brought the match home with the third winner of the serve to get his name on the scoreboard.
The fifth game was another extended one, and Nadal was dangerous in the second leg. He created four break points and took advantage of the last one when Novak missed a backhand to get back on the positive side. Rafa tied the score at 3-3 with three breaks in Game Six, pleased with the result after a slow start.
Both found great rhythm in the following matches, hitting several winners and reaching 5-5 without any issues. The last two games were tight and tied. The servers exceeded the break chances to set up a tiebreak. Novak was up 3-1, 4-3, 5-4, 6-5, and earned that point after a 13-stroke run.
Rafa denied it with a winning forehand after 18 shots and scored another small break with a deep comeback on point 13 to lead 7-6. Captured the hit point with an 8-6 serve winner after 74 grueling minutes!
Novak was top in the service winners category by 16-13, and Rafa had one win from the field, scoring 12 fouls to Novak’s 11. Djokovic scored 16 unforced errors while Nadal remained eighth, with five more forced fouls in the Spaniard’s tally. (14-9).
With this result, Nadal was able to achieve three wins in the first second set and broke Djokovic in the second set after three errors from his opponent who suffered from the movement on slippery ground. Rafa was broken in match three after a forced foul and allowed Novak to return to level with three non-returns in the next stage.
After a comfortable hold on both sides, Nadal had the opportunity to move up front again after picking up two break points in the eighth game. Djokovic saved the first after an eight-hit rally and the second with a winner serve before ending the match with a backhand to avoid a relapse and send pressure to the other side.
The ninth match started with the Serbian winning with a forehand, Nadal added three fouls to break in love and let Djokovic serve for the set. A strong one stood between Novak and the second set, but it wasn’t for him.
It was broken when Rafa grabbed his third break opportunity in the 10th game and made the score 5-5 for more drama. Nadal led 40-0 in the eleventh game with three winners before Novak reverted to the Devil. The Spaniard won the next two points to bring the match home and force the opponent to serve to stay in the match.
At 30-30 in the 12th game, Djokovic sent a long ball and faced the first point of the match. Nadal sealed the deal with a landslide winner in the net to celebrate his first ATP title and 28 of his career.