Djokovic defeats Nadal for 4th consecutive time, wins Rome Masters title
Novak Djokovic has defeated Rafael Nadal in the final of the Rome Masters to clinch his third trophy in the Italian capital. The Serb registered a come-from-behind 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 win, in the process handing Nadal his third defeat on clay this season.
Nadal started the match aggressively and quickly went up a double break in the first set, banishing all concerns about the fatigue that many feared he would feel owing to the string of three-setters he played earlier in the tournament. But Djokovic signalled his intentions by getting one break back before the Spaniard could run away with the set. Nadal held on to clinch it 6-4, but by this time the Serb had sunk his teeth into the match.
Sure enough, Djokovic opened the second set by winning three games in a row. Although Nadal broke back to make it 3-2, Djokovic once again attacked the Spaniard’s serve to regain the ascendancy. He kept pressuring Nadal with his return, and while he couldn’t get the insurance break, he served out the set calmly to take it 6-3.
The Serb once again pounced on the Nadal serve at the start of the third set, immediately going up a break and taking a 2-0 lead. Nadal then displayed his famed fighting skills by saving a couple of break points in an extremely long game to hold for 2-1. By avoiding the double break, he had ensured he was still in the match.
Djokovic was serving with authority, however, and quickly went up 3-1. But Nadal wouldn’t go away, and the Spaniard unleashed a series of titanic forehands to break back for 3-3.
Just like in the second set, however, Djokovic responded to a break by immediately breaking back, thus regaining the upper hand. At 4-3, the Serb put in a confident hold to put all the pressure on Nadal, who now had to serve to stay in the match.
Unfortunately for Nadal, he couldn’t hold serve in the last game, as Djokovic took his second match point to clinch the decider 6-3, and with it the match.
This is Djokovic’s fourth consecutive win over Nadal, and brings their head-to-head record to 19-22. This is also Djokovic’s fifth Masters title out of the last seven played on the ATP tour, and fifth out of the last six that he has played (he withdrew from the Madrid Masters last week).
For Nadal, this will be the first time in a decade that he will travel to the French Open with less than two claycourt Masters trophies under his belt.