Rafael Nadal writes Masters 1000 history ahead of Novak Djokovic

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Rafael Nadal writes Masters 1000 history ahead of Novak Djokovic

Competing in 12 Masters 1000 semi-finals is a nice achievement that puts you in a position to chase at least a couple of titles at the premium ATP level. Playing in the last four at a single Masters 1000 event on 12 occasions makes you the tournament legend and secures a place in the history books, as it was done by only two players so far.

Rafael Nadal is the leader of the pack with 14 semi-finals in Monte Carlo, with both the Spaniard and Novak Djokovic securing the 12th Rome Open semi-final two weeks ago. Thus, Novak became the second player with at least 12 semi-finals at a single Masters 1000 tournament, while Nadal extended his dominance and stayed at the top with two achievements of that kind!

Nadal made a winning start at Foro Italico following a hard-fought 7-5, 6-4 victory over the fellow top-20 player Jannik Sinner. Rafa lost serve on three occasions against the upcoming star and chased the result in both sets.

Using his experience and determination to avoid another early exit like in Monte Carlo and Madrid, Nadal overcame two deficits in the opener and bounced back from 4-2 down in set number two to advance into the last 16. The Spaniard had to dig deep against Denis Shapovalov in the third round, prevailing 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 after saving two match points in a thriller!

Rafael Nadal is the only player with 12 semi-finals at two Masters 1000 events.

Nadal trailed 6-3, 3-0, 40-30 and remained composed to steal the second set and prolong the encounter. Starting all over and leaving the second set behind him, the Canadian kept fighting and built the advantage in a decider before Nadal bounced back and returned to the positive side.

Shapovalov saved break chances at 5-5 and earned those two match points in game 12, wasting both and allowing Rafa to seal the deal in the tie break. In the quarters, Rafa needed two hours to dismiss Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-4, avenging the Madrid Open loss and advancing into the 75th Masters 1000 semi-final.

In his most relaxed match of the week, Rafa took down Reilly Opelka 6-4, 6-4 in his 12th Rome Open semi-final, remaining on the title course and setting the title clash against Novak Djokovic. The Spaniard beat the Serb 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 for the 36th Masters 1000 crown, leaving Rome with numerous achievements ahead of Roland Garros.