Nadal Overcomes Rain, Zverev for Comeback Championship Win at ATP Rome

by Staff | May 20th, 2018, 3:23 pm

Rafael Nadal continues to be challenged, but continues to meet the challenge during the 2018 claycourt season.
On Sunday he overcame a second-set thrashing to defeat Alexander Zverev 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 for an eighth career Italian Open title, in the process moving back to No. 1 on the ATP rankings.

“It has been an amazing week,” said Nadal. “Such an important week to have this trophy with me again after losing in the quarterfinals in Madrid. It was unforgettable and emotional for me. It’s amazing to win eight titles in Rome. It’s a difficult event and to have the chance to win again here means a lot. This is the moment to enjoy winning here again.”

It was his third claycourt title in less than a month, with his only loss on the dirt coming to Dominic Thiem in Madrid.

Nadal had previously won his last Rome title in 2013.

The 31-year-old won his 78th career title, moving to No. 4 on the all-time list behind Jimmy Connors (109), Roger Federer (97) and Ivan Lendl (94).

Zverev tested Nadal from the start, breaking in the opening game of the match, and in the second set winning five straight games to eventually force a third set. The 21-year-old broke early in the third before two rain delays gave Nadal a chance to regroup. The Spaniard broke back for 3-3 and wouldn’t lose another game.

“There’s nothing I can do about it,” Zverev said about the rain. “Next time, I have to find a way to come out better after the rain and play better tennis. He came out way faster and played much more aggressive than I did.

“And, you know, with the fatigue I had it took me a very long time to get activated again and to get going. Obviously, it wasn’t enough time. It just changed momentum. And Rafa is somebody that if you’re not in the match and if you’re not feeling the ball well, you have no chance.”

Nadal has now won a record 32 Masters-level titles.

Zverev dropped to 8-5 in career finals and 2-2 this year.

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36 Comments for Nadal Overcomes Rain, Zverev for Comeback Championship Win at ATP Rome

Lylenubbins Says:

Nadal drew on his experience today, used the delay to adjust. what a victory!

Wog Boy Says:

Congrats to Rafa and his fans, amazing achievements, I sincerely wish him to continue this way for another 4-5 years, not just on CCs.

When Nadal is done the tennis history will say that it was only one player who was able to put up with Nadal and stop him from reaching even greater results and continuously so, the only one player who has beaten him 7 (seven) times on clay in every single masters and FO, only one player who won every single CC masters multiple times (beating Nadal in the final and the way to final) in the era of the greatest ever CC player.
All what’s left of that player, second best CC player in this era, is starved face with eyeballs popping out and ears sticking out, as much as the world are going to remember him as one of the greatest players ever, they will remember him also for self destruction unseen before in modern sport and that’s very sad, very sad for his fans, but such is life.

Humble Rafa Says:

Wog Boy,

World needs more people like you. Please multiply in numbers are comfortable with.

FesExpress Says:

Players shouldnt be allowed to talk to their coaches during rain delays.

Nadal escaped thanks to the rain. No and ifs and buts.

The Arrogant Goat Says:

Nadal won. Deal with it.

Okiegal Says:

@Wog Boy ……Thanks for the congrats! Maybe Novak will get back to his old self one of these days….. A big plus for him is that he does have his old coach back on board! The bad times he’s going through atm is sure hard on the fans…….been there and done that a few times myself…….. sigh……..😞😞😞

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Yes, Nadal escaped because of the rain. But we knew he would. He was playing un-Nadal-like for a while, with unforced errors and too much vanilla play. When they took the break, I had a feeling Rafa would collect himself and Zverev’s chance was gone. Rafa got lucky, but champions make the most out of those lucky breaks. They find the opening and seize it.

It was a great match from Zverev, and it definitely added a bit of interest in the FO. But Rafa reigns. I haven’t seen the detailed stats, but Zverev was having good fortune going to Rafa’s backhand, but he didn’t seem willing to stick with it. His drop shot worked great, but his net play seemed a bit unreliable. When he improves that aspect (not if) it should make a big difference for him.

Zverev’s had a very impressive run the last few tournaments. He’s close. Fed and Rafa aren’t getting younger. His time is coming, unless some other youngsters step up to challenge him.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

meanwhile, back at the ranch… Novak gets better, bit by bit. Stan returned, and no one noticed, especially anyone tuning in after the first round, and Andy’s comeback seems more and more clouded.

There is a vacuum at the top, and its sucked Zverev up into it.

Humble Rafa Says:

FesExpress Says:
Players shouldnt be allowed to talk to their coaches during rain delays.

Dear Misspelling,

If the rain delay is one day, do you send players to jail?

AndyMira Says:

WB!…Thank u so much for the congrats!…Really appreciate it coming from u!…

I was very impressive with the way Nole perform in Rome..I really do!I think if he’s not stumbled into Rafa in semis,he’s already in the final imo…And maybe win it too!..That’s how great he is last week…I think he will keep improving at FO,Wimby & onwards…All the best for Nole!!

Nitesh Says:

@Fesexpress Players should be allowed to talk to their coaches even during set breaks INMHO. I have never understood why not?When in every other sport you see coaches all involved during the match.

Margot Says:

Congrats to Rafa being back at No 1.

Madmax Says:


No surprises but what is really encouraging is that Zverev really showed some grit. However, he is up against the best on clay, and to put up such a fight (from both players), made this a great match.

Hopefully Zverev will take this and use it to his advantage at the FO.

Margot Says:

Tennis Vagabond: not “good fortune” but “good play.” Daniel and I discussed it on the match thread. Pretty boy’s back hand, always a weapon, has got even better. Think you do him a disservice BTW saying he’s been “sucked into the vacuum” he’s much better than that, qualifying for Next Gen and ATP finals was special at 19/20.
Anyway, we’ll see how he does at the next 3 slams. Like his chances at Wimbledon best. If his stamina is an issue, hopefully he doesn’t play too many long matches there.

j-kath Says:

Congrats to Rafa – I get a bit irritated when he is assumed to be the same generation as Roger – there’s a solid handful of years between them. In my view Rafa will continue to be a “pain in the derriere” to Zverez & co. for some time to come. That said – a warm welcome to the to Zverez – now a most worthy opponent in the top tier.

AndyMira Says:

Thank u for the congrats JK!…Really appreciate it!!

About Sascha…yeah!..He’s awesome atm!…Played 3 straight weeks,3 final..won 2…He’s definitely a clear candidate to challenge Rafa at FO…BUT,a very interesting fact…He never passed 4th Rd in slams all this years…Curious to see whether he can pass ‘the curse’ this time around…His hot form certainly said so…

j-kath Says:

Andy Mira: Yes. I do wonder if Sascha (and other NewGen) can do as well at Slams….5-setters a different challenge – can need a lot of stamina.

Madmax Says:

Don’t get irritated J-Kath – 5 years is hardly 10 – they are of a ‘similar’ time in sport.

Does that sound better? They are both in their 30s, lower and middle. I could go on; do remember as well that Rafa played Roddick 7 times, Hewitt, 7 times, he also played Agassi twice, so actually, these players who are more associated with Roger at the beginning/middle of Fed’s career , also apply to Rafa. They should be discussed in the same generation J-Kath. That cannot be denied.

It’s just that Roger is older, by 5 years and a little, it’s not a big deal.

Humble Rafa Says:

Parents are lazy. Guys with names like Psisitsisitas and Zvereverv will never become household names and transcend the sport.

j-kath Says:

Madmax: Have U still got your kite? Time to have a wee swirl and stop worrying about Roger – he’ll be fine.

Madmax Says:

Hi J-Kath,

I don’t understand your comment. If you were being sarcastic or humorous, then it is lost on me.

I was being serious, so my question to you is why so irritated – I asked for clarification, that was all.

I’m not worried about Roger. Why should I be?

Daniel Says:

Agree Margot,

Zevrev is only 21 and had already 4 Masters finals and 3 titles. He just needs to translate it to Slams, and maybe when he does it will be with a bang.
The only other players who won Slams at a young age in last 15 years, were Fed 22, DelPo 21, Doko 20 and Nadal 19. Zverev can enter this elite group if he wins a Slam this year or next.

Also he is competing for this year #1 ranking. Right now he is leading the race with only Fedal, above 3000 pts as well.

Just for us to have some perspecitive, last year at this point on the seaosn Fed had 4000 pts (skopeed RG) and Nadal after RG had almost 7000 pts.
This year the max Nadal can reach assuming he wins RG is 5000 pts.

So the #1 race will be on with 4 or 5 players, Delpo and even Cilic in the mix with grass and HC season coming later, Nadal’s worst part of the season. I believe will be tighter than last year.

Okiegal Says:

@JK…….Thanks for the congrats! Agreeing with your comments too. Well, the match wasn’t pretty by any means. Strange scores to say the least. Heavy damp conditions not a friend of Rafa’s game! Alas, he found a way!! Kings find a way, no???

@Margot….. Thanks for the congratulations on Rafa regaining the #1 ranking once again! The Z man has got game for sure…… yep, he is a force to be reckoned with NOW! A very good player who’s fun to watch. Is his stamina in question atm? I guess the next slam will tell the tale. He’s a cutie too! He gave a nice speech regarding the King of Clay…….it made me smile!!

rognadfan Says:

Congrats to the new world #1 :)
He deserves it.

The course changed quickly for Zverev. While I had not much doubt at the time that Rafa would have pushed him hard and got the break back even if there was no delay, Zverev must be thinking ‘that effing rain did the trick’. And rightfully so, in his mind; he was pushing Rafa until that delay and was a break up.

That’s the name of the game, sometimes, all things line up the way you want, and other times they do, for the other guy.

Okiegal Says:

I don’t know about anyone else, but didn’t the damp heavy conditions cause the problems in the first place?? There might not have been rain in the second set…. but dampness would still be a factor…… in the atmosphere?? I wasn’t paying that much attention to the sky and all between first and second sets. I’m positive Z came out a little anxious and Rafa does too and openly admits it from time to time. I’m gonna watch a replay and pay more attention to weather conditions from the beginning of the match………but I don’t guess it matters…. a win is a win is a win!!

Van Persie Says:

Delayed congrats for Rafa to his fans! Good match. As great champs do, he found a way yesterday. Am glad, that he took the Nr. 1 rank back.:)


see you popped by. ;)
Took my “magic potion”, while watching Djoko-Rafa match (rarely do this in the last years). Was at a grill party, people were loud and I wanted to be focused. I realized one thing about Djoko. He behaved like a man, who wants his trousers back. Have the feeling he might quit Pepe’s ideology soon, we have to see how soon. Hope I am right.

Apologize to Rafan’s for mentioning this here, but to lousy to search for Novak’s thread.

Okiegal Says:

@VP…… Thanks for the congrats! It’s all good…. you can talk about your fave on a Rafa thread. …. after all, you congratulated Rafa first. I thought Novak looked very good this tournament. I know you as his fan is in a bad place atm but he’s getting there…. I truly believe he is!

Okiegal Says:

@rognadfan…..Thanks for the congrats! Appreciate your comments regarding my fave!! He got r done one more time!!

Van Persie Says:


Thank you also for the nice words. I also have now the feeling that he would be able to come back. Hope, he did not fool me :D. Am also sure, he will get some spanking from other players during that process hehe.
Would be great if he would make it to the 2nd week at the FO. Now let’s see if he will meet Rafa on his way out from there. ;)

j-kath Says:


Didn’t mean to upset you – the “go fly a kite” is an expression which means “don’t worri – just relax”. What about “smile and the world smiles with you”????

Okiegal Says:

@VP…. Being a tennis fan is nerve racking to say the least. When our favorites have had health issues and then have to make the journey back…… can be a tough climb to the top.

Humble Rafa Says:

I am terrified of these young mental midgets…NOT.

Czarlazar Says:

Zverev has yet to win a big match against a top opponent. The win last year in Rome against Nole was gifted to him by an uninspired vegan man — the previous, legitimate Nole would’ve dusted him in two sets with extreme prejudice. Zverev chokes on match point against Nadal at Indian Wells 2016 on a sitter volley that a “B” club player would make 19 times out of 20. Then chokes again here, losing the last five games in a row to meekly surrender to the King of Delay. And he’s been the invisible man at GS tourneys even though he’s at the age that most legends have already bagged a major or two. The talent is there, but he’s proven nothing on the big stage and it’s far from certain he’s the heir apparent to the Big Four.

Madmax Says:


No problem. No worries. Not at all. Been trying to read what is going on with Andy?

I leave that to you and Margot, but you are not saying so much about it lately?

Dish the dirt.

j-kath Says:


Lots of positive talk about Andy playing in Holland -despite an earlier wee rumour about not being ready..
repudiated by the Dutch and Andy’s team saying he is still planning to play. So let’s hope it proves right. Meanwhile, think Nole may surprise at FO – he won’t beat Rafa – but could advance to semis….Yes? No?

AndyMira Says:

JK!…I think we’re the only one here who believe that Nole could go far at FO…I picked him to the final vs Rafa!Hahaha…Time will tell whether we’re going to be right or wrong!…hehehe…

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