Italian Open: Rafael Nadal Beats World No. 1 Novak Djokovic To Clinch Men’s Singles Title

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Rafael Nadal whip world number one Novak Djokovic to win a 10th Italian Open title on Sunday and set down a key marker two weeks out from the defence of his Roland Garros crown. Second seed Nadal won through 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 in 2hr 49min against the defending champion in the 57th career showdown between the twosome. “It’s amazing I have this trophy in my hands for a 10th time, something unimaginable to consider,” said the world number three who also equalled Djokovic’s record of 36 ATP Masters 1000 titles in his 12th Rome ultimate. “I keep in mind the first ultimate I won here in Rome back in 2005 against (Guillermo) Coria which lasted five hours,” reminisce about the 34-year-old of his five-set battle past the Argentine.

Djokovic and Nadal were facing each and every other for the 57th time, having final played in the 2020 vinaigrette Open ultimate which the Spaniard won in straight sets.

The twosome have won 15 of the final 17 Rome titles between them, while Nadal leads their head-to-head in finals in the Italian capital 4-2.

“I actually wanted this title. This had been one of the crucial important titles in my career. I’d won 10 in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Roland Garros and actually wanted it here too,” added Nadal.

Despite losing his opening service game Nadal broke back in the third game hitting twice as many winners as the Serb with 21 in the set.

A dip in form in the second one set allowed Djokovic to break twice and get back into the game.

But Nadal got back on course in the third with Djokovic having played almost five hours on court on Saturday between his rain-delayed quarter-finals and semi-final matches.

The Spaniard saved two break points on his serve in the fifth game and broke for love for 4-2.

Djokovic saved a first match point in the eighth game but Nadal made no mistake on his second chance in the following to seal his 88th career title after winning in Barcelona earlier this month.

“It doesn’t get a bigger challenge than playing in the ultimate against Rafa,” said five-time Rome winner Djokovic, who leads their overall head-to-head 29-28. 

“Overall three hours of prime quality tennis. I’m disappointed not to win, but pleased with my level. 

“Going into Paris it is a good sensation. I feel like I wish to feel on clay. Whether I play like I did final night and today I think I have a shot in Paris.

“I will play in Belgrade and then go to Paris able to rock and roll.”

Nadal  has now won 10 or more titles at a unmarried event for the fourth time, after Roland Garros (13), Barcelona (12) and Monte Carlo (11).

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The vinaigrette Open gets underway in Paris on May 30 where Nadal will be chasing a record 21st Grand Slam title.

Djokovic, the 2016 champion at Roland Garros, will be hoping to change into the first man in over half a century and just the third in history to win all four majors more than once.

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