Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were not only fighting for the Rome title today but also over ranking positions and the Roland Garros draw. The Roman final had a distinct feel to it that the two players were already starting the battle over the French Open trophy. Today it was Nadal that came out on top 7-5, 6-3 in two hours and twenty minutes.
Nadal was desperate to win, not only to prove he can still beat Nole when the Serb is not emotionally traumatized by his grandfathers death, but also to try and return to number two in the rankings. The ranking change could mean the difference between facing Novak in the semis or the final of Roland Garros.
With so much on the line Rafa came out and let his intentions be known early, making an incredibly aggressive start to find two break point chances in the opening game only to then struggle to maintain his depth of shot.
On his fourth chance, Nadal broke for a 3-2 lead.
Errors continued to fly off Nadal’s forehand and Novak continued to play with so much depth that if his shots didn’t hit the line they sailed just past it. The result was that Nadal was unable to hold serve and the match was leveled at 3-3.
As the set wore on Nadal couldn’t seem to find a first serve as his forehand repeatedly abandoned him when he needed it most. Somehow Novak’s occasional errors kept the Spaniard alive despite the fact that Novak was bullying Rafa around the court.
While Nadal struggled to get to 5-5 and the crowd loudly cheered for Novak, Uncle Toni could be seen quietly chanting “Rafa, Rafa, Rafa!”
In the eleventh game Novak seemed to be cruising on serve until a series of errors and some long punishing rallies with some incredible reflexes at the net saw Rafa given one more chance. Seemingly revitalized by the opportunity Nadal closed it out 7-5 in 76 minutes.
Swinging freely with a set under his belt Rafa broke again in the opening game of the second set. Nadal remained under pressure on serve as Nole tried to fight back but the mounting errors from the Serbian let Rafa off the hook time and time again.
Ultimately it was error count that crippled Djokovic and a double fault that sealed the deal allowing Nadal to secure himself a more advantageous position to start from in the tournament known as the House of Nadal – Roland Garros.
Today Nadal claimed his sixth title in Rome, his 35th clay title and his 21st Masters 100o title.