In a match that lasted nearly two and a half hour, Djokovic outlasted Nadal 4-6 6-3 6-2 and thus extended his unbeaten run in 2011 to 18 matches on the trot.
Djokovic who sent Federer packing in the semi-finals of the Indian Wells, lost the first set 4-6 and the game was set for another power-packed victory for World Number No.1 Rafael Nadal. But Djokovic, who is probably playing the best tennis of his life, was not done yet. He came back remarkably well to break Nadal twice early in the final set before eventually running away with the match when the Spaniard netted a forehand.
The second set, which Djokovic won was almost a replay of the first one except that the dominating players were interchanges. Djokovic drew the first blood and appeared to run away with the set until Nadal fought back with typical aggression. In the end, it was Djokovic who stood tall after breaking Nadal in the sixth and eighth game.
With huge number of Serbian fans goading him, Djokovic made easy meat of Nadal in the final set when he fired down aces to hold serve in the fourth and sixth game before sealing it off in the eighth on his first match point.
Nadal, known for his grace in defeats was effusive in his praise for his bete noir on Mar 20 and said, "You started the season fantastic so all the best for the rest of the season..Well done. I lost today but I lost to one of the greatest."
Djokovic for his part said, "I am playing with a lot of confidence, I'm feeling the ball well on the court.."I have a big will to win each match I'm playing. It will not stop here, definitely. I want to keep on going, keep on playing good tennis."
Despite the victory, Djokovic had no doubt in his mind as to who was the better player of the two and said, "For me, you(Nadal) are the greatest player ever."