ATP Rome: Rafael Nadal tops Tsitsipas to join Federer on exclusive list

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ATP Rome: Rafael Nadal tops Tsitsipas to join Federer on exclusive list

World no. 2 and eight-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal is through to the 11th final at Foro Italico following a 6-3, 6-4 triumph over Stefanos Tsitsipas in an hour and 42 minutes. After the last week's defeat in the semi-final in Madrid, Rafa played better than the young Greek today, advancing into the 50th Masters 1000 final and delivering the 60th win in Rome from 66 encounters since 2005, never losing in the semis here!

Taming his shots nicely, Nadal dominated with his forehand and finished the clash with 21 winners and 17 unforced errors, leaving Stefanos on a 17-27 ratio which wasn't enough for a more productive result. The Greek was up there with the Spaniard in the shortest points up to four strokes but he couldn't keep that pace in the more advanced exchanges where Rafa had the upper hand to forge the triumph and reach the first ATP final since the Australian Open, seeking the first title of the season.

The Spaniard made the difference with the second serve, facing only two break points at the beginning of the match and saving them both to mount the pressure on the other side of the net. On the other hand, Tsitsipas failed to match those numbers after missing the first serve and got broken once in each set to propel Rafa into the title match against Novak Djokovic or Diego Schwartzman.

The first set offered more action on the Spaniard's serve and he dealt with it nicely, fending off both break points and converting the only chance for a 6-3. The set was concluded in the opening games, with Nadal scoring a break in game two after a stellar defense and a forehand down the line that gave him massive confidence for the rest of the encounter.

Another forehand down the line winner and the one from serve got Rafa out of troubles in game three, fending off a couple of break points to cement the break and stay ahead until serving for the opener at 5-3. Out of sudden, Stefanos won the first two points but Nadal was not to be denied, taking four straight points and wrapping up the set with a service winner after challenging 48 minutes.

Tsitsipas' serve was under pressure again in the third game of the second set, facing three break points and suffering a break after a forced error, sending Rafa a set and a break up and facing a mountain to climb in the rest of the set if he wanted to topple the Spaniard for the second week in a row.

Unlike in Madrid, that could have never happened today, with Nadal losing four points behind the initial shot in the entire set, sealing the deal with a service winner in game ten for the place in the first final on clay since the last year's Roland Garros.