Novak Djokovic endured a bagel set for the 12th titme in his career on Sunday.
Novak Djokovic is widely regarded as one of the best all-court players in the game’s history.
The 34-year-old Serb has won nearly 1000 singles matches and has won 86 titles, which includes 20 Grand Slam, 37 Masters 1000 and five ATP World Tour Finals titles. The World No. 1 is only behind Rafael Nadal (21) in the all-time Major leaderboard, while he is the first of two players to win the double Career Grand Slam. Djokovic, meanwhile, is also the all-time Masters 1000 title leader.
Djokovic, famed for his mental strength and resilience, can turn around matches from seemingly lost positions. That explains why he doesn’t often get bagelled. However, in the Serbia Open final against Andrey Rublev on Sunday, the Serb endured only the 12th bagel set of his illustrious career.
That marked only the fourth occasion Djokovic was bagelled in a claycourt final. On that note, here’s a look at the four times the 34-year-old failed to win a game in a set in a title match on the red dirt:
#4 2022 Serbia Open Final – Novak Djokovic vs Andrey Rublev 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-0
Andrey Rublev beat Djokovic to triumph in Belgrade.
Having won just two matches all year coming into Belgrade, Djokovic’s lack of rhythm and match fitness was evident against the in-form Andrey Rublev in the final.
For the fourth time in as many matches in the Serbian capital, the 34-year-old was slow off the blocks, dropping the opening set. Djokovic regrouped in the second, taking it in a tiebreak to restore parity.
However, his exertions during the week took their toll against a fitter opponent. Rublev overwhelmed Djokovic with his superior power and ground strokes to take six straight games to to win a joint tour-leading third title of the year.
The Serb, meanwhile, fell to 37-6 in the Serbian capital and 5-3 in the year.
#3 2020 Roland Garros Final – Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal 6-0, 6-2, 7-5
French Open Winner Rafael Nadal
In a brutally one-sided title match at 2020 Roland Garros, Rafael Nadal beat his arch-rival Novak Djokovic for the loss of just seven games to win a record-extending 13th title at the tournament.
There was a lot at stake when the two players locked horns for the last Grand Slam title of a COVID-19-affected year in the French capital. Nadal was looking to go level with Roger Federer (20) atop the all-time Grand Slam title leaderboard. Meanwhile, Djokovic was striving to become the first male player to win the double career Grand Slam.
However, in a tactical masterclass, it was the Spaniard who reigned supreme on the Parisian clay on a cold October evening. Nadal bagelled Djokovic in the first set and dropped only two games in the second. The Serb offered some resistance in the third, but Nadal reasserted his ascendancy to draw level with Federer in the Slam count.
#2 2019 Rome Final – Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal 6-0, 4-6, 6-1
Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic in a hard-fought Rome Masters final in 2019 to win his ninth title at the Foro Italico.
In his 50th Masters 1000 final, Nadal was without a title coming into Rome for the first time since 2004. However, the Spaniard was quick off the blocks on his favorite surface, pummelling Djokovic with aggressive groundstrokes to take the opener without dropping a game.
The Serb began to find his mojo in the second, escaping from 3-3 0-40 on serve to break Nadal at 5-4 to force a decider. However, Djokovic’s greater exertions during the week meant he ran out of wind in the decider as Nadal moved to a 9-2 win-loss in Rome finals.
It marked the sixth occasion Nadal won a tournament after winning at least three bagel sets. More interestingly, it was the first time in 142 sets between the pair that one player won a bagel set.
#1 2007 Estoril Final – vs Richard Gasquet 7-6 (7), 0-6, 6-1
Novak Djokovic won 2007 Estoril despite dropping a bagel set in the final.
Novak Djokovic was not a Grand Slam champion when he arrived in Estoril in 2007. In fact, the then 19-year-old had won just four titles coming into Portugal.
In a tough tournament opener, Djokovic needed a third-set tiebreak to beat Igor Andreev. After a straight-sets win over Santiago Ventura, the young Serb was taken the distance by Guillermo-Garcia Lopez in the quarterfinals.
However, the Frenchman produced a bagel set to roar back into the contest.
To his credit, though, Novak Djokovic regained his mojo, dropping only one game to win his third title of the year and his first in Estoril.