ROME — Rafael Nadal is correct again the place he needs to be.
After dropping within the semifinals of three straight clay-court tournaments, Nadal dominated for stretches in opposition to his longtime rival, Novak Djokovic, in a 6-Zero, Four-6, 6-1 win Sunday for a record-extending ninth Italian Open title.
It marked the primary time in an Open Period-record 54 conferences, and of their 142nd set in opposition to one another, that Nadal gained a set in opposition to Djokovic with out conceding a sport — in any other case often known as a bagel.
The timing for Nadal’s return to type couldn’t have been extra opportune, as he’ll search a record-extending 12th title on the French Open beginning subsequent weekend.
PlayerWins vs. No. 1Rafael Nadal20Boris Becker19Novak Djokovic13– ESPN Stats & Info
“Successful a title is vital however for me a very powerful factor is really feel myself aggressive, really feel myself wholesome,” Nadal stated. “Then with the sensation that I’m enhancing. I do know if I can attain my stage you’ll be able to win, you’ll be able to lose, however usually I will have my probabilities, particularly on this floor.”
Prime-ranked Djokovic, in the meantime, appeared exhausted after spending greater than 5½ hours on court docket in opposition to Juan Martin del Potro and Diego Schwartzman the earlier two days.
Djokovic was additionally coming off the Madrid Open title final week.
“I do not need to discuss fatigue or issues like that,” Djokovic stated. “Rafa was just too sturdy in the present day.”
Within the ladies’s last earlier, Karolina Pliskova captured the largest clay-court trophy of her profession by beating Johanna Konta 6-Three, 6-Four.
The Foro Italico crowd frequently tried to encourage Djokovic with chants of “Vai Nole!” — Go Nole! — however the top-ranked Serb struggled along with his overhead and drop pictures.
Halfway via the second set, Nadal chased down a lob with an over-the-shoulder shot and Djokovic’s ensuing overhead landed within the internet to conclude a protracted level.
Djokovic once more netted an overhead within the subsequent sport after which kicked the ball in frustration when he missed a drop shot try late within the second.
However Djokovic hung round within the second and transformed his first set level when a looping forehand from Nadal sailed huge for his first break of the match. As he walked to his chair after profitable the second set, Djokovic waved his arms to get the group behind him.
Nonetheless, Djokovic did not have a lot left within the tank.
When Nadal pushed Djokovic deep into the nook within the opening sport of the third set and Djokovic’s desperation lob sailed lengthy handy Nadal a break, Djokovic smashed his racket to the clay 3 times in frustration and obtained a warning from the chair umpire.
Djokovic gained solely 29 % of the factors on his second serve and dedicated 39 unforced errors to Nadal’s 17. Additionally, Nadal gained 23 of the 31 rallies with 9 or extra pictures.