Published: Tue, May 21, 2019
Sports | By Brett Lawson

Imperious Nadal blows away Djokovic to land 9th Rome title

Imperious Nadal blows away Djokovic to land 9th Rome title

Rafael Nadal of Spain returns the ball to Novak Djokovic of Serbia during their final match at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Sunday, May 19, 2019.

Nadal defeated World No 1 Novak Djokovic 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 for a record 34rd Masters, leaving his vanquished foe to label the Spaniard as "the number one favourite for Roland Garros".

Before the match Nadal sent out a warning to his fellow French Open hopefuls, by commenting on his recent form.

"Winning a title is important but for me, the most important thing is [to] feel myself competitive, feel myself healthy", Nadal said.

Djokovic had saved two match points in his quarter-final win over Juan Martin del Potro that finished at 1.05am local time on Saturday and then had another three-set encounter later that evening against Diego Schwartzman which lasted two hours, 31 minutes. It was Nadal's first win over the Serbian player since the semi-finals of this event a year ago.

"I'm really glad that I managed to get into the third set, considering the first set where I was blown away from the court", Djokovic said.

"He used it very well, he's been playing some terrific tennis throughout the entire week and he was just too strong".

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In the women's singles, Konta came from a set behind to beat Dutch world number four Kiki Bertens 5-7 7-5 6-2 and progress to the final, where she will face qualifier Maria Sakkari or fourth seed Karolina Pliskova.

Nadal overtakes Djokovic at the top of the list for Masters wins - the pair were level at 33 each before yesterday's final - in a timely boost ahead of his assault on a 12th French Open crown in a week's time.

Nadal broke in the opening game of the decider, prompting Djokovic to demolish his racquet in frustration and with the Serb continuing to falter with drop shot attempts, Nadal surged to a 58th clay court title.

The 2016 U.S. Open runner-up, Pliskova also reached the Australian Open semifinals and the Miami Open final after opening this season with a title in Brisbane, Australia.

"I've never really doubted my ability on the surface, " Konta said. I was just happy with every match which I played.

"So it's little bit like a miracle for me because clay is always tough". "That's important for me", he said. Then in the next game, Konta ran down a drop shot and produced an angled victor. Even later in the match, Djokovic is still able to find another gear and pull out ridiculous shots that break the spirit of his opponent.

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