Rome Masters 2019, Men’s Singles Final: Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic, Preview and Prediction
In the longest, almost evenly contested and arguably the biggest rivalry in modern tennis, eight-time champion Rafael Nadal takes on the four-time champion, and top seed Novak Djokovic at the Rome Masters Final.
This will be an unprecedented fifty fourth match between the two, which is edged by Djokovic 28 to 25. In fact this will be the fifth time the two meet in the Rome final. Of the four previous encounters, they have won two each, and this final will also decide who has the bragging rights going into the all-important French Open. Will Nadal win a record-extending twelfth title at Rolland Garros or will Djokovic be the only male tennis player after Rod Laver to win each Grand Slam at least twice?
A win at Rome will make Djokovic possibly the strongest favourite to lift the French Open, a departure from the norm where Nadal, the King of Clay, has almost always been the favourite. But this clay season has remarkably seen Nadal fail to lift a single title on clay, even after three attempts. This, in fact, is the first time he has managed to reach the finals. However, all that will be forgotten if he can somehow conjure the magic hitherto unseen this season, and defeat his biggest rival on one of the biggest stages.
His form so far has been nothing sort of magical in Rome. He has won all his matches in straight sets. After the demolition act in his first two matches, where he gave away just one game in each match, he faced a little bit of resistance against Fernando Verdasco in the first set. After that, he dominated Verdasco in the second set and won a relatively comfortable match in the semi-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas, thus exacting the revenge of his Madrid loss.
He was especially impressive on his second serve, and that was a major difference between him and Tsitsipas on the day. But he will not have that luxury against Djokovic. The Serbian may not have had a smooth-sailing thus far, unlike Nadal, and has won his last two matches against del Potro and Schwartzman in three sets, he is almost certain to raise his level against Nadal, just the way he did at the Australian Open earlier this year.
But on his favourite court, after an uncharacteristically poor season, Nadal has a point to prove. Djokovic is not going to have it easy the way he did at the Australian Open.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win in Three Sets