The 19-time Major champion Rafael Nadal will finally hit the court again next week at Rome Masters, entering his first tournament since February! Spending the previous six months at home in Mallorca, Nadal has been practicing on clay at his Academy in recent months, making an expected move and withdrawing from Cincinnati and the US Open.
Nadal will travel to Rome on Wednesday, chasing the third straight crown at Foro Italico and second title of the season after Acapulco. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, Rome will be 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 and some of the greatest players of the Open era have won the title there. Alongside Kitzbuhel and Hamburg, Romer serves as the biggest test for the players ahead of Roland Garros, the third and final Major of the crippled season, gathering the world's best players, excluding Roger Federer.
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 taking care of everything to produce a safe tennis week. The last year's finalists and the world's leading players Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal should lead the field, hoping to set the title clash as the dominant players at this tournament in the previous 15 years.
With 61 victories from 67 encounters in Rome, Nadal has been the player to beat at this Masters 1000 event, making a winning debut in 2005 in that memorable final against Guillermo Coria and experiencing only four early exits.
In the last year's final, Nadal defeated Djokovic 6-0, 4-6, 6-1, defending the title and adding the 34th Masters 1000 crown to his tally. Beating Novak for the first time in a year, Nadal grabbed the first crown since Canada 2018, getting back on track on the beloved surface after three straight semi-final losses in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid.
Rafael Nadal returns to action next week in Rome, seeking the tenth title.
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.
In the end, the Spaniard played against only two break chances, suffering one break and creating no less than 17 opportunities on the return, converting six to control the scoreboard and secure the 81st ATP title! At 32, Nadal became the oldest Rome champion, earning the milestone 20th triumph over world no.
1 players. They had a similar number of winners while Novak made many errors, choosing wrong shots and losing ground from the backhand wing. 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.
In 2020, Nadal has won 13 out of 16 matches, losing in the quarter-final at the Australian Open and winning the title in Dubai.