For the nineteenth consecutive year, Rafael Nadal wins at least one title in the major circuit. Number eighty-nine in his career, number twenty-three on hardcourt, number ten in the '250' category and the first from Rome.
In a relatively short week, even given Tallon Griekspoor's forfeit in the quarter-finals, the very Spanish champion wets his return to the circuit in the best possible way. Despite a few spots here and there, the twenty-time Grand Slam champion gives quite important answers at the foot of the Australian Open.
However, the final with US qualifier Maxime Cressy was more tiring than expected, who did not take advantage of a set point in the tie break of the first set and who missed the 3-1 lead in the heart of the second set. The 7-6 (6) 6-3 that matures on the threshold of two hours of play is practically a logical consequence.
Nadal flirts with the break at the start. And in the first three rounds of serving he wins 100% of the points with the first ball. While not responding brilliantly, especially on the weak side, the Spanish champion does not take advantage of the very few chances that Cressy puts on the plate.
Even if another handful of break points are missing at 3-3. The American tennis player, almost an extra in response, nevertheless remains in the slipstream thanks to a tactical plan as dangerous as it is effective: the serve & volley.
Nadal inaugurates the tie break with a splendid straight response (which he capitalizes with a rather simple passer-by) and shoots up 3-0 without particular difficulties. Cressy takes advantage of a rather soft second from Nadal at 2-3, forcefully returns to the track and even puts his head ahead at 5-4.
Nadal trembles at 5-5 and with a very bloody double fault he puts the chance to close on Cressy's stringbed.
Rafael Nadal enjoyed a decent run of form in 2021
Emil Ruusuvuori has revealed that playing against Rafael Nadal was one of his best experiences on a tennis court.
"Well, it was, first of all, one of the best experiences on court for me. I mean, on one of the biggest courts against one of the best players ever. For sure there were some nerves before the match, and it looked like he had some, too.
The first few games weren't the best. But it was a good match overall. I thought for a while I did good things, some things for sure. It's improving; that's also a good thing. But the main thing is it was a very, very cool experience."
Speaking after the final, the 35-year-old said: “I want to thank the organisation. I feel privileged and am a very lucky guy to be here again. I am coming back from some challenging moments in terms of injuries, so I can’t be happier. It means a lot to be back and with a trophy in my hands”.