Champion in the Eternal City: Novak Djokovic's Rome Mastery

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Champion in the Eternal City: Novak Djokovic's Rome Mastery
Champion in the Eternal City: Novak Djokovic's Rome Mastery

Novak Djokovic debuted at the Rome Masters in 2007, losing to Rafael Nadal in the quarter-final. A year later, Novak conquered the title at Foro Italico, playing his seventh clay-court Masters 1000 event and lifting the trophy.

Djokovic faced Stan Wawrinka in the title clash and scored a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 triumph in two hours and four minutes. After a tight win over Igor Andreev in the third round, Novak played just 15 games against Nicolas Almagro and Radek Stepanek.

They both retired after the second set's opening game, and Djokovic preserved energy for the Wawrinka clash. It was a beautiful serving display from the Serb, dominating with his first serve and saving two out of three break points to keep the pressure on his rival.

Wawrinka did grab the opening set thanks to that lone break. However, he could not keep the same pace in the rest of the encounter, getting broken three times from six opportunities offered to Novak. Djokovic forged the gap in the mid-range rallies, while Wawrinka stayed in touch in the shortest and most extended exchanges, which was not enough for a more positive outcome.

Novak Djokovic ousted Stan Wawrinka to claim the 2008 Rome title.

It was a good start for both players in the first four games. Novak experienced problems on serve first and got broken at 2-2 after Stan's forehand down the line winner.

The Swiss hit two winners after deuce in game six to increase the lead to 4-2. Novak faced two more break points in the next one after losing ground in the last 15 minutes. He fended them off with winners and made a clinical hold with additional two service winners that kept him in contention.

Stan held at love in game eight to move 5-3 ahead, and Novak did the same a few minutes later, forcing his opponent to serve for the set. Wawrinka brought it home with a service winner for 6-4 after 39 minutes, moving a step away from the most significant result on the Tour.

Like in the opening set, the second offered four easy holds for 2-2. Djokovic delivered his first break of serve at 3-2 when Stan sent a wide forehand and held after deuce a few minutes later to increase the lead to 5-2. The Serb fired four winners in game nine to seal the set and grab momentum ahead of the decider, looking good to lift the most significant title on clay.

Stan saved a break point with a service winner in the final set's opening game. However, he sprayed a backhand error on the second to get broken and give Novak the crucial lead and an even more substantial boost. Djokovic cemented the break with a service winner and held everything under control in his service games, hitting another unreturned serve to move 3-1 ahead.

They both held at love in games five and six, and Stan was in trouble on serve again at 2-4, saving a break chance and reducing the deficit to 3-4 with a service winner. Novak was solid behind his initial shot in game eight and forced Stan to serve to stay in the match at 3-5.

A loose backhand gave Djokovic a match point, and Wawrinka saved it with a powerful serve before facing another after a forehand mistake. A forehand winner gave Novak the break and title, achieving the most notable result on clay outside Roland Garros and preparing another assault in Paris.

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