A beautiful Foro Italico in Rome will be the venue of the second Masters 1000 event of the season, staged right after the US Open! Rome became a part of the Open era back in 1969, with some of the biggest names finding their name on the winners list, like Newcombe, Nastase, Laver, Borg, Vilas, Lendl, Wilander, Muster, Courier, Sampras, Kuerten, Ferrero, Agassi, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray.
Unlike in May, Rome will take place in September due to the coronavirus pandemic, gathering some of the best players in the world in what should be their biggest test ahead of Roland Garros. The last year's finalists and the world's leading players Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal should lead the field (the US Open semi-finalists will receive the first-round bye), ahead of the fellow top-10 stars, excluding Roger Federer.
Novak Djokovic will play at the US Open, ready to travel back to Europe and compete on clay for the first time this year if he doesn't feel too tired. On the other side, Nadal has been training on clay for the last couple of weeks, preparing to seek another trophy in Rome.
Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Matteo Berrettini and Gael Monfils complete the top-10 list, with many more notable players ready to fight for the title in the Italian capital. In the last year's final, Nadal defeated Djokovic 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 in the clash of the most dominant competitors in the Italian capital in the Open era.
Rafa defended the title won in 2018, becoming the first player with 34 Masters 1000 titles. It was the last test for both ahead of Roland Garros where they would be the top favorites, with Nadal beating Djokovic for the 26th time and the first in 12 months, claiming the first title since Canada 2018 and getting back on track on the beloved surface.
Competing in the 50th Masters 1000 final, Rafa dominated in sets one and three to cross the finish line first, with Novak giving his best to overcome a terrible start and a bagel.
The last year's finalists Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic lead Rome field.
In the end, the Spaniard played against only two break chances, getting broken once and creating 17 opportunities on the return, converting six to control the scoreboard and claim the 81st ATP title, lifting at least one for the last 16 years!
At the age of 32, Nadal became the oldest Rome champion, earning his 20th triumph over world no. 1 player in his outstanding career. They had a similar number of winners while Novak made many more errors, with his backhand letting him down completely, alongside poor choices and drop shots.
Rafa was more efficient in the mid-range and most extended rallies, and that was enough to propel him over the finish line and deliver much-needed title after a tough period due to injuries. The next edition should be exciting, especially for those who would come straight from New York to Rome, needing a quick transition from hard to clay if they want to stay competitive against rivals like Nadal and Wawrinka.