Rafael Nadal made his debut at Rome Masters 1000 event in 2005 at the age of 18, standing as one of the favorites and going all the way after that epic win over Guillermo Coria in five hours and 14 minutes! The instant chemistry was born and Rafa was the dominant figure in the Italian capital for almost ten years, winning seven titles in the first nine appearances, handing the trophy to Novak Djokovic in 2008 and 2011.
The last crown in this fantastic streak came in 2013 when Nadal survived stern tests from Ernests Gulbis and David Ferrer, spending more than five hours on the court in those encounters before beating Tomas Berdych 6-2, 6-4 in less than 80 minutes to preserve the energy.
In the title clash, Rafa took down Roger Federer 6-1, 6-3 on May 19, celebrating the seventh Rome title and one of the most impressive wins over a great rival. The Swiss ousted Potito Starace, Gilles Simon, Jerzy Janowicz and Benoit Paire to advance into his third Rome final although he needed something extra to challenge Nadal that day, with the Spaniard scoring his quickest win over Roger, wrapping up the triumph in 69 minutes while needing a minute more to deliver the first one in Miami 2004!
Also, this was the 30th clash between two legends and the 20th victory for Nadal who served at 74% and lost only 12 points behind the initial shot. With nothing to work on the return except one break he made, Roger's serve was in danger all the time, dropping 55% of the points in his games and suffering five breaks from six chances offered to Rafa.
The Spaniard barely made any unforced error, leaving Federer to count to 30 and outplaying him in the shortest and mid-range exchanges to race towards the finish line and claim the 24th Masters 1000 title, the second in a row after Madrid.
Roger held at 15 in the opening game with a volley winner but his forehand let him down two games later, spraying an error that offered Nadal an early break and the momentum after ten minutes. Rafa confirmed the break with a hold at love and took full control with another good return game that pushed him 4-1 in front after a forehand crosscourt winner.
A service winner sent Nadal 5-1 up, rattling off 20 of the last 25 points and closing the opening set with the third straight break in game seven after just 24 minutes when Roger sent an easy volley long. Federer landed 82% of the first serve in but that gave him nothing (Nadal returned staggering 95% of the returns in), spraying too many errors and unable to move Nadal from the comfort zone and his lethal forehand.
Things looked a little bit better for Roger at the beginning of the second set, creating a break point in the opening game before getting broken in game two after a backhand crosscourt winner from the Spaniard who was a set and a break up now, marching towards another Rome title.
Taking 26 out of 34 baseline rallies, Rafa held at love in game three with a service winner to extend the advantage before Roger finally held in game four after deuces, reducing the deficit to 3-1. An outstanding backhand down the line gave Nadal another good hold in game five and he hit an even better one in the next point to break Roger and move a game away from the title.
Serving for the crown, Nadal got broken at love in game seven but there were no mistakes at 5-3, holding at love and moving over the finish line with a service winner, celebrating one of the most one-sided wins over Federer who couldn't have done anything to stop the Spanish avalanche on that day.