Rafael Nadal has beaten world number one Novak Djokovic to claim the Italian Open in Rome in dominant fashion 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 and dish out some payback for the Australian Open 2019 humiliation at the hands of the Serbian.
Spaniard Nadal was handed a painful straight sets loss in the final back in January from Djokovic, and although his win wasn’t as commanding as Djokovic’s 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 victory, it did go some way to restoring some pride to the Spaniard in their legendary rivalry.
The first set was won in stunning fashion by Nadal – in what was his first final since Australia – without dropping a single game, recording the first ‘bagel’ in a match between the two – dubbed a ‘Djodal’ match among tennis fans – in 54 meetings.
Nadal seemed intent on dishing out some of his own humiliation as revenge over the Serbian after that crushing straight sets defeat.
In the second set, Djokovic recouped to push Nadal all the way, although perhaps the best point up until then was a fantastic rally at three games all that saw Djokovic drive into the net. The frustration was evident on the world number one’s face.
However, the experienced ‘Nole’ persevered in a manner that has become characteristic of the 15-time Grand Slam champion.
Djokovic was on the verge of breaking the Spaniard to clinch the second set and level it up, only to drop three points with three successive back hand errors, which prompted him to boot a ball rebounding from the net into the air as a ball boy ran to assist.
The Serb eventually clinched the second set 6-4 courtesy of some unforced errors from Nadal and ensure a third set, and it seemed as though a looming crisis had been averted.
Djokovic came back to break Nadal straight off and claim the first game of the decider. But that was as good as it got for the 31-year-old, as Nadal romped home to win the last set by breaking Djokovic and clinch the championship, with the best player in the men’s game hitting an unforced error into the net from close range to close the match.
Djokovic however will go into next week’s French Open still ranked as number one in the world, despite Nadal becoming the oldest champion at the Italian Open, the latter goes into his favored Slam – which he has won more than any other player – as now the player to win in Rome more than any other.