World number 2 Novak Djokovic stunned the King of Clay and World Number 1 player Rafael Nadal at the Foro Italico to claim the Rome Masters title on Sunday, May 18.
Djokovic secured his third Rome Masters title after winning the tournament in 2008 and in 2011. He defeated Nadal in three sets 4-6, 6-3,6-3. Nadal took the first set but struggled in the second and was barely scraping through each point later in the game.
The defeat is Nadal's third this season and after being very successful in this surface in the past, a chink in his armor is showing ahead of the French Open in Roland Garros. Nadal came to Rome looking for an eight title in that tournament. He looked like he was well on his way after a good start. He broke Djokovic twice before the Serbian player was able to find his rhythm and get back in the game.
Nadal started the match with a 3-0 lead and eventually won the first set 4-6. The momentum quickly shifted in the second set when Novak broke Nadal in the opening game of the set. Things were looking even as the score levelled out at 3-3 before Novak broke free of the Spaniard and won the second set at 6-3.
The third set was a complete struggle for Nadal as he fought for each of his points while Djokovic cruised through his. This is the 19th ATP Masters for Novak and he has now won the last four matches he has played against Nadal. The head-to-head tally between the two still has Nadal on top 22-19 but b the looks of it, he needs to watch his back.
"He's one of the best in the world, he's playing great, I played well for moments, I had my chances for moments, but I could have done with a little more energy at times. My legs didn't answer me after a tough week," said the Spaniard.
Djokovic missed the Madrid Masters two weeks ago which was won by Nadal after his opponent in the final, Ken Nishikori withdrew in the third set due to a back injury. Djokovic skipped the tournament after suffering a wrist injury at the Monte Carlo Masters earlier this year.
Both players will be heading out to Paris for the biggest clay tournament of the year and the second Grand Slam in Roland Garros for the French Open. Nadal will be defending his title for a fifth straight victory and he will be gunning for his 14th Grand Slam and ninth French open title.