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Unbeaten Djokovic edges Nadal in Miami Masters epic

Novak Djokovic savors his final's triumph over Rafael Nadal in Miami to win his fourth title of 2011.
Novak Djokovic savors his final's triumph over Rafael Nadal in Miami to win his fourth title of 2011.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Novak Djokovic beats Rafael Nadal to win Masters 1000 crown in Miami
  • Djokovic wins deciding third set tiebreaker 7-4 for his 24th straight win in 2011
  • World number one Nadal claimed opening set, but Djokovic hit back to level
  • Djokovic has four titles this year including Australian Open crown

(CNN) -- Novak Djokovic beat world number one Rafael Nadal to claim the Miami Masters 1000 title Sunday and maintain his winning start to 2011.

Djokovic saw off Nadal 4-6 6-3 7-6 for his 24th straight victory since the start of the season, including the Australian Open title and two Masters crowns, both times at the expense of the Spaniard in close finals.

After more than three hours of pulsating action, Nadal finally cracked in the third set tiebreaker at 2-2 when he served up a double fault.

His Serbian opponent seized on the opening as he took five points in a row to hold four match points at 6-2.

Nadal bravely saved two, but on the third a forehand winner gave Djokovic his second title at the prestigious hard court tournament.

It was one of the best finals I ever played in my life
--Novak Djokovic
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"It was very close and it really could have gone either way," he said after lifting the trophy.

"It was one of the best finals I ever played in my life, and it's always a great pleasure and honor playing against Rafa, who is a good friend and a great champion."

Nadal, who will now turn to his favorite surface of clay as he defends his ranking against the fast rising number two Djokovic, conceded he had been second best.

"Today I had some good chances, but Novak was too good for me this afternoon," he said.

A single break of service in each set saw the pair share the opening two sets, which were marked by punishing baseline rallies.

The pattern continued in the third, with neither man able to break though on his opponent's service, setting the scene for the decisive tiebreaker.

Both men had won their semifinal matches in straight sets, with Djokovic beating home hope Mardy Fish and Nadal dispatching former world number one Roger Federer.