The Rome Masters will once again see a summit clash between two greats of the sport. Novak Djokovic entered the final of the Rome Masters after battling past Italian Lorenzo Sonego in three tough sets. Djokovic will face Rafael Nadal in the final, with the Spaniard having won in straight sets against American Reilly Opelka. The duo will clash for the 57th time in the Open Era in a rivalry that continues to dominate the sport.
Djokovic and Nadal last faced off in the 2020 French Open. It was the Spaniard who won his 13th French Open title with brilliant straight sets win. The pair have won 14 of the last 16 Rome titles between them. Nadal leads their head-to-head in finals in the Italian capital 3-2. The journey to the final has been pretty tough for both players.
Nadal saved two match points to defeat Canada’s Denis Shapovalov in the third round. The Spaniard finally snapped his losing streak against Alexander Zverev in the quarter-finals as he won after three consecutive losses. Djokovic, on the other hand, has endured a tough contest against Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Djokovic finally entered the final after rain had delayed his semi-final against Sonego. The Serb battled back to win the match. His biggest test will be to stop Nadal and his consistency as he builds up for a record-breaking 14th French Open title. Nadal is looking to equal Djokovic’s record of 36 Masters 1000 titles in his 12th Rome final. Djokovic would be aiming to pull two clear with a win.
In the game against Opelka, Nadal blasted 11 aces and broke serve at crucial times. He did not drop serve as he finally got the better of the American player who is fast making rapid strides. However, Djokovic joked that the older generation of players was not making way for the attack by the Next Generation of stars.
“We kind of joked around about that the ‘Old guys are still not giving up’. I’m really glad we’ve shown we’re not backing off from the Next Gen attacks. I saw he said a few days ago that Roger (Federer), him and I are old, but I disagree, I think we’re showing some different fresh energy. It’s great to play him again in the final. He’s the guy that I have encountered the most in my career, definitely my biggest rival of all time,” Djokovic said after the match.