It was smooth sailing for Rafael Nadal as he cruised past top-ranked men’s singles player Novak Djokovic to win the Italian Open crown on Sunday.
Nadal defeated Djokovic 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 in Rome to win his second straight title at the clay court event. It was easy going for Nadal in what was an atypically poor performance by Djokovic.
It was the 54th time that Nadal and Djokovic had faced off in an ATP Tour event, and the Spaniard got the best of the Serbian this time. In fact, with his 6-0 win over Djokovic in the first set, Nadal achieved the first ever ¨bagel set¨of his career against his long-time rival.
This Italian Open win is the ninth of Nadal’s storied career. It helped him get over a hump in which he had seen himself fall in the semi-finals of three consecutive clay court tournaments, which are usually his specialty.
The Italian Open is often considered a ¨warm up¨ for the clay-court Grand Slam tournament French Open, which begins this weekend. Nadal will look to repeat at Roland Garros after his win in the tournament last season.
This victory in Rome gives him much-needed confidence before his title defense begins in Paris on May 26th.