What really is perfection?
While in different walks of life, people would have a different opinion on what really brings together the magic recipe of perfection, in tennis the word is reserved for Nadal on clay. And while, this love affair started way back in 2003, when Rafa was still a teenager, the hallowed story continues with yet another title in Rome, his 10th.
Nadal overcame a mid-match surge from his arch-rival Novak Djokovic to register a hard-fought 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 win in the Italian Open and making it clear that while he may be 35, he is in no mood to loosen his stronghold on the red dirt.
Novak’s fatigue, Nadal’s victory-
The sunday match was decidedly harsh on Novak Djokovic who was coming off 5 straight hours on the court the previous day,courtesy of a rain delayed QF and the subsequent SF.On the other hand,Nadal had spent only about an hour on the court on saturday en route to his straight sets victory over R. Opelka.
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Djokovic, who was bidding to record his first win on clay against the Spaniard since the 2016 Rome quarter-finals, showed little signs of fatigue in the opening set against Nadal. The Serbian raced out to a 2-0 lead by staying aggressive and keeping the points short.
But Nadal broke straight back, and his forehand speed steadily climbed as the match unfolded, earning 15 of his 21 winners in the first set and 26 of 37 overall, winning it 7-5.
But a dip in Nadal’s intensity gave the Australian Open champion the opening he needed at the start of the second set. The Spaniard held a breakpoint at 1-1 for an early edge, but Djokovic’s big first serves bailed him out of trouble. The World No. 1 let out a roar, and the comeback was on as he applied the pressure on Nadal with deep returns to claim a 3-1 lead and ultimately claim the set 6-1.
The nine-time Rome champion overcame a crucial stage of the final set at 2-2, where Djokovic fought his way to two break points. Nadal held firm and raised his level in the next game, painting the lines with forehand winners to break to love for a 4-2 lead. He converted his second championship point after Djokovic sent a backhand long, sealing the victory after two hours and 49 minutes.
A very satisfying victory-
“It’s a very satisfying [victory],” Nadal said in his post-match press conference. “It’s amazing [to] have the trophy with me again one more time here in Rome. The 10th, I really wanted this 10th here in Rome. It was one of the first important titles that I won in my career.
“After achieving 10 in Roland Garros, 10 in Monte-Carlo, 10 in Barcelona, I really wanted this one.”
The victory also earned Nadal a 36th ATP Masters 1000 crown, equalling Djokovic’s record since the series was established in 1990.
Most ATP Masters 1000 Titles (since 1990)