Rafael Nadal wins 10th Italian Open title, beats Novak Djokovic in thrilling final

Rafael Nadal clinched his 10th Rome Masters title as he overcame Novak Djokovic in a thrilling three-set clash to build up momentum for the French Open.

Rafael Nadal has won the Italian Open 10 times and this is his fourth clay court title that he has won 10 times or more. (Image credit: ATP Tour Twitter)

Rafael Nadal proved yet again that when it comes to playing on clay, there is no one better than him. On Sunday, Nadal displayed his brilliance and got the better of Novak Djokovic in a thrilling Rome Masters final. Nadal defeated Djokovic 7-5,1-6,6-3 to win the Rome Masters for the 10th time. Nadal has won 459 out of 501 clay-court matches, indicating his supremacy and his moniker ‘The King of Clay’. This was the 57th meeting between the pair. Djokovic narrowly leads the head-to-head 29-28 over Rafael Nadal.

On clay, Nadal extended his lead to 19-7. He has also beaten Djokovic in each of their last 5 meetings on the surface, including the 2019 Rome Masters final and the 2020 Roland Garros final. Nadal will now be gunning for a world record 14th French Open title. With the win in Rome, Nadal now has 10 or more ATP titles in three tournaments. After Rome, Nadal has won the Monte Carlo Masters 11 times. The Spaniard has also clinched the Barcelona Open 12 times.

Nadal vs Djokovic lives up to top billing

Nadal had entered the final on the back of a straight sets win against Reilly Opelka. Djokovic, on the other hand, came off two tough three set games against Stefanos Tsitsipas and Lorenzo Sonego. Nadal was fresher while Djokovic looked fatigued.

However, it was Djokovic who claimed the first break of the match in the second game but Nadal broke back in the third game. Nadal failed to convert a break point in the seventh game but broke Djokovic in the 11th game.  After failing to convert a break point in the third game of the second set, Nadal’s game fell apart as Djokovic won five consecutive games to win the set and force a decider. Nadal regrouped at the start of the third set as he routinely served out his first two service games.

The Spaniard then saved two break points in the fifth game, before claiming the key break in the following game. Nadal served out for the match in the ninth game as he converted his second match point.

A lot at stake for Rafael Nadal

Nadal now has 10 or more wins in four Clay Court tournaments, confirming his dominance. But, Nadal said the Rome Masters was a super important tournament for him. “After achieving 10 in Roland Garros, 10 in Monte-Carlo, 10 in Barcelona, I really wanted this one. I went through a lot of things during the week. Some positive, some great moments, some lucky moments, suffering moments. In the end, I think I played a very solid week of tennis. This trophy means a lot to me,” Nadal said. 

If Nadal wins the French Open, then he will surpass Roger Federer’s tally of 20 Grand Slam titles. The French Open will begin by the end of May.

Sportslumo Desk

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