On Sunday, Rafael Nadal won his 10th Rome Open crown after a close 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 win over No. 1 Novak Djokovic. The encounter lasted two hours and 50 minutes, with two great rivals pushing themselves to the limit in the most crucial clash before the second Major of the season at Roland Garros.
Thus, Rafa secured the 36th Masters 1000 crown to equal Djokovic's record, bouncing back from quarter-final defeats in Monte Carlo and Madrid to win numerous records. It was Nadal's 22nd win over no. 1 player and the first since last year's Roland Garros final when he defeated Djokovic in straight sets.
Sunday's win over Novak was Rafa's 22 against no. 1, extending his record and leaving Boris Becker with 19. Ivan Lendl and Novak Djokovic share third place with 14 wins over no. 1, followed by Andy Murray, who stands at 12.
Rafa threw everything he had on Novak in the final of the Rome Open, shooting 37 winners and 23 unforced errors to dominate a great rival and beat him for the 28th time! in 57 meetings! Nadal won just a couple of points more than Djokovic, losing in the most extended rallies and erasing that deficit in the quickest exchanges up to four strokes that secured him victory.
They broke in the early stages of the match and stood side by side for over an hour in the first set. Nadal took a crucial break at 5-5 when Novak scored an easy forehand and held after two to finish the set and gain momentum.
Djokovic raised the bar for him in set number two and left Nadal far behind with a double break, making five straight games to become the favorite before the decider. Fighting hard to stay in touch, Rafa saved break opportunities at 2-2 in the final set and took a break in the next to open a 4-2 gap.
Djokovic saved a match point in game eight with a winning serve before Nadal moved over with a grab 30 minutes later.
Casper Ruud comments on Rafael Nadal
Casper Ruud has revealed he will travel to Mallorca after the conclusion of the Geneva Open to spend time training with Rafael Nadal ahead of the 2021 French Open.
"Next week I will go to Mallorca," said the Norwegian. “I will rest 1-2 days and then I will resume training to prepare for Roland Garros. Rafa is there and I think he will want to play so after some rest I am ready for some hard training with him."
The Norwegian admitted that Nadal was better than him at golf and that he was fast trying to close the gap. “We will probably play golf next week," Ruud added. "Rafa has a handicap (a system that allows amateurs to compete with professionals) to zero, I have 1.8. So we're close, but he's better at the moment. Next time I'll try to beat him."