Miami Masters - Red-hot Djokovic downs Nadal in thriller
Novak Djokovic defeated world number one Rafa Nadal in a third set tie-break to win the Sony Ericsson Open 4-6 6-3 7-6.
The victory extends second ranked Djokovic's winning streak to 26 matches going back to last year and follows his victory over the Spaniard in Indian Wells two weeks ago.
"It is just incredible to win against the number one player in the world in a third set tie break," a delighted Djokovic said on court before he was handed the trophy.
It was a magnificent battle that lived up to its billing as a clash between the sport's top-ranked player and the most in-form competitor on tour at the moment, producing quality, drama and tension throughout.
Nadal began strongly, breaking the Serb in the third game of the opening set to end Djokovic's remarkable streak of 41 successive service games held in the tournament.
Djokovic failed to convert on two break points in the next game and then Nadal took advantage of two loose forehand shots from the Serb to break again and after holding serve he ran out to a 5-1 lead.
But Djokovic does not buckle easily and the world number two came back fighting, winning three straight games.
With Nadal serving for the set at 5-4, Djokovic worked himself into a position to break, up 30-15, but the Spaniard's big serve came out and he held to secure the set.
The Serb's rally should have been warning to Nadal that he could expect a real onslaught in the second set, and so it was - after a wonderful rally, Djokovic held his serve and then broke Nadal in the second game.
There was a tantrum from Djokovic, who smashed his racket to the ground, after he gave Nadal break point in the third game but he held on to go ahead 3-0.
Nadal was trying everything to get back into the set but he came up against some inspired strokes from the Serb who twice beat him with perfectly placed lobs and was aggressive coming to the net.
Djokovic served out the set to love in emphatic fashion with an ace but Nadal found reserves of energy and drew on his outstanding technique as he proved a match for the Serb throughout the third set.
The enthralled crowd lapped up every game and even though neither player could get a break point in the final set, the aggressive way that both players approached the encounter ensured there was drama throughout.
A tie-break was a fitting conclusion and in the end Djokovic grabbed a 5-2 lead and then an outstanding forehand winner down the line gave him the comfort of four championship points.
Nadal saved the first two points but Djokovic delivered a big forehand winner and raised his arms to the air, to acknowledge the roars from a crowd who had been treated to tennis at its very best.