Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem to compete in Rome with no crowd

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Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem to compete in Rome with no crowd

A beautiful Foro Italico in Rome will be the venue of the second Masters 1000 event of the season, staged between September 14-21, right after the US Open! Rome became a part of the Open era 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 world's best players in 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 is through to the second week in New York and we shall see if he wants to compete in Europe on clay in the following week, together with other leading stars who are still in the US Open draw. On the other hand, Nadal has been training on clay for the last couple of weeks, preparing to seek another Rome trophy.

For the first time, there will be no crowd at Foro Italico this year. The organizers have decided to host the event with no spectators, following health rules and preparing everything for a safe week of tennis. In the last year's final, Nadal defeated Djokovic 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 in the clash of the Italian capital's most dominant competitors in the Open era.

Rafa defended the title claimed 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 a year.

It was the first title for Rafa since Canada 2018, getting back on track on the beloved surface after three straight semi-final losses. 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.

Rome Masters will not open gates for spectators this season.

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 secure the 81st ATP title!

At the age of 32, Nadal became the oldest Rome champion, earning his 20th triumph over world no. 1 players in his outstanding career. They had a similar number of winners and Novak made many more errors, with his backhand letting him down completely, alongside poor choices and game plan.

Rafa was more efficient in the mid-range and most extended rallies, enough to propel him over the finish line and deliver a much-needed title after a challenging 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 Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka.