Rafael Nadal wins Italian Open title again after beating Novak Djokovic
Rafael Nadal won a record-extending 10th Italian Open title in Rome after beating top seed Novak Djokovic in three sets.
Second seed Nadal, 34, came out on top in the 57th ATP Tour level clash between the two rivals 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 in two hours and 50 minutes.
Victory also secured Nadal his 36th ATP Masters 1000 crown, equalling Djokovic’s record since the series was established in 1990 and he now leads the Serbian 29-28 in ATP head-to-heads.
Nadal won his first Italian Open title in 2005, while Djokovic, 33, was aiming for his first win on clay against the Spaniard since the 2016 quarter-finals in Rome.
Djokovic showed no signs of fatigue after spending almost five hours on court on Saturday while winning both his quarter-final and semi-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas and Lorenzo Sonego in a rain-affected tournament.
Nadal, who won his semi-final against American Reilly Opelka in an hour and a half, lost his first service game to go 2-0 down in the opening set, but immediately broke back and then held in his next to level at 2-2.
The Spaniard pounced on Djokovic’s serve again in the 11th game to edge 6-5 ahead and wrapped it up 7-5 on his second set point.
Djokovic rallied in the second set, breaking Nadal’s serve twice, in the fourth and sixth games, to win it 6-1 in 44 minutes and level the match and looked to hold the upper hand when he forced two break points at 2-2 in the decider.
But Nadal staved them off and raised his level in the next game when he broke Djokovic’s serve to take a decisive 4-2 lead.
Nadal served out for the title at 5-3 up and clinched it on his second championship point when Djokovic sent a backhand long.
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