Nadal Rips Gonzalez for Rome Title and 77th Straight Clay Win

Posted on May 13, 2007

ATP World No. 2 Rafael Nadal won his third ATP Masters Series shield of 2007 and stretched his clay-court winning streak to 77 matches by defeating Fernando Gonzalez 6-2, 6-2 in the final of the Internazionali BNL D'Italia. He is the first player in the Open era to win three consecutive Rome titles and is now a perfect 17-0 at the event.

The 20-year-old clinched an ATP-best fourth title of the year. He has dropped just one set on clay in 15 matches this season.
Nadal won his ninth ATP Masters Series title and improved his impressive record in ATP finals to 21-3 and his perfect record in clay court finals to 16-0.

"My special goal today was playing a little bit more aggressive than yesterday," said Nadal who made just 14 unforced errors to Gonzalez's 31 and dropped serve only once. "And if González take the control of a lot of point it's very difficult, his forehand, so I try to return the ball and be more aggressive. It was important for me, that. And he has some mistakes, which help me a lot.

After grinding for more than 3 1/2 hours to defeat Nikolay Davydenko in Saturday's semifinals, it was a return to business-as-usual for the clay king, who dropped just four games to Gonzalez in the 84-minute victory.

The Chilean, who enjoyed a crushing 6-1, 6-2 win over Filippo Volandri in the semifinals, held a rare 3-1 head-to-head edge over Nadal going into the final.

“This was a good week for me, especially if you go back one or two weeks and I was playing really bad on this surface," Gonzo said.

Nadal has won the past 13 clay court tournaments he has contested. The Spaniard improved to 32-5 on the year (15-0 on clay).

"Very happy with my game the last two months," Nadal said. "I was playing my best tennis. I think I am in the best moment in my career, playing better than ever, so very happy for that. Very, very happy. I work very hard the last year and, well, when you work hard it's important someday feeling like this."

The 26-year-old Gonzalez was the first Chilean to reach the Rome final since Marcelo Rios captured the 1998 title (d. Costa). Gonzalez was appearing in his second career AMS final ('06 Madrid) and second final of the season (Australian Open).

Nadal and Gonzalez are scheduled to play in Hamburg which begins Monday. Odds are Nadal will skip the event to rest for his upcoming Roland Garros title defense. Roger Federer is the top seed.