As far as the rivalry is concerned, their performance at the Australian Open earlier this year was a much better performance with more drama and flip-flopping leads. Novak has been struggling all week while dealing with the grief of losing his grandfather during the term of this event. But professionals of his stature have a will of steel which will not bend until perhaps going up against nothing but the best. That describes Nadal on clay as he has won the last seven finals in Monte-Carlo. In this match, Rafa was the unabated windstorm who kept the pressure on Novak the entire match. The result was a less-than-stellar performance in return from Djokovic who lost by an uncharacteristic score of 3-6, 1-6. Hitting 25 unforced errors versus 11 winners for the match is no contest against probably the best the red dirt has ever seen.
Djokovic may have struggled with mixed emotions about continuing to play tennis while feeling the loss of a very close family member, but that is not to take anything away from Rafael Nadal's performance. The Spaniard once again showed how dominant he can be, and now with this win over Djokovic, he has broken the stranglehold Novak has had over him over the last 18 months. No one said it better than Nadal himself when he commented, during the trophy presentation, "after seven times, thanks for this one." Novak smiled and patted Nadal on the shoulder, but there is no doubt this rivalry will continue to heat up as the tennis year moves on.
Congratulations to Rafael Nadal as the 2012 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters men's singles champion.