Nole battles past Bellucci, faces Nadal in Madrid final!

Photo: Reuters

Novak Djokovic continued his fantastic start to the 2011 ATP World Tour season equaling Bjorn Borg’s streak in 1980.

The world no.2 remains unbeaten in 31 successive matches after coming back from a set and a break down to defeat Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 in 2 hours and 9 minutes on Saturday in the semi-finals of the Mutua Madrid Open.

An unforced error from Novak on the forehand in the fifth game of the opening set gave Bellucci an early break point. The Brazilian took full advantage of it, finding a fantastic forehand winner down the line to move in front. Djokovic made 19 unforced errors while Bellucci made only 7 to win the set 6-4 in 40 minutes.

The 23-year-old Serb earned three break points in the second game of the second set, but Bellucci held for 1-1. Nole was broken in the third game, but fought back in the sixth and consolidated the break for 4-3. The world no.36 was serving to stay in the set when the Belgrade native broke his serve once again to seal the set 6-4.

Djokovic took over control in the decisive final set. He found his rhythm, raised the level of his game and made a double break, in the second and sixth games, to take the set and match 6-1.

“I always believed throughout the whole match that I could turn it around and I was right,” said Novak after the win. “He was definitely the better player for a set and a half. He was more aggressive. I just felt quite slow on the court from the start of the match and it took me a while to really get into the rhythm. But when I did, when I made that crucial break, it was much better.”

“I try not to think about losing. I try to think about winning and I think that’s a positive state of mind. That’s why I’m playing well.”

Match statistics: aces (6-5), double faults (1-1), winners (15-22), unforced errors (32-37).

Nole will challenge world no.1 Rafael Nadal on Sunday at 6.30pm CET in his first Madrid finals.

The Spaniard beat third-seeded Swiss Roger Federer 5-7, 6-1, 6-3.

Nole and Rafa have met 25 times, Nadal leads 16-9. The best Serbian tennis player will try to top the Spaniard for the first time in their tenth match on clay.

“It’s great for the crowds, it’s great for the tournament, and for us in the end because every time it’s a big challenge and we both look forward to it,” said Djokovic. “We are competing a lot in the last couple of months and we’ve had some really good matches, especially the ones in the United States recently. Of course the memories come back from Madrid 2009, when we played that very, very long match. It’s going to be great for the people to see us play.”

“Of course I am motivated to win against anybody, especially against Rafa because it’s the ultimate challenge on clay courts,” added Novak. “You want to step in and give your best and you want to try to win. He’s an incredible player, an incredible competitor and he’s been winning on clay courts so much over the past couple of years. I know that but I need to believe I need to step on to the court and try to win.”

Good luck Nole!

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