Rafael Nadal completed his pre-French preparation in the finest fashion subduing rival Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-4 to win the Internazionali BNL d’Italia Tennis Masters 1000 in Rome.
In their third career Monday final meeting – the match was heldover because of rain yesterday – Nadal proved just too strong and too tough against the defending champion Djokovic who beat Rafa in the title match a year ago.
The revenge win was Nadal’s sixth in Rome and a record 21st at the Masters 1000 level. It also returns him to the No. 2 ranking giving him the No. 2 seed at the French Open ahead of Roger Federer – draw released on Friday. Nadal also extends his series lead over Djokovic to 18-14.
This season Nadal’s won three clay titles winning all 15 matches and 30 sets on the red clay. He did lose to countryman Fernando Verdasco on Madrid’s blue clay.
Overall, it was Nadal’s 49th career title, 35th on clay and the victory sends him back to the No. 2 ranking.
Nadal will seek his 7th French Open title next week.
After entering the French Open last year with seven titles and a 37-0 record on the year; this season Djokovic will go into Paris with two titles and a 30-5 mark.
Nadal: “I am happy that I won in Rome without losing a set against the best players in the world like [Tomas] Berdych and [David] Ferrer and [Novak] Djokovic. I will have this trophy in my bedroom. It is a dream. [I have] the confidence I am playing well and this comes when I play at the right level. Hopefully I will keep playing like this.”
Djokovic: “He is always the favourite, even if I win against him seven times; he is the best player in the world on this surface. I think that the match today was quite close, even if he won in straight sets. If you don’t use the opportunities against Rafa he gets momentum. I made a lot of errors which should not happen when you play against Nadal. I will go to Paris with confidence and I played a great week.”
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