Nadal: ‘Now Is The Moment To Keep Going’

Rafael Nadal has never been one to dwell on the past and he made that clear throughout the week at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

“You don’t complain when you play bad, when you have problems, when you have pains. You put [on] the right attitude [and] the right face. You go on court every day with the passion to keep practising,” said Nadal. “That’s something that I did during all of my career…that’s why I was able to always have the chance to be back. Here we are. Important title, important moment. Now is the moment to keep going.”

The Spaniard was reluctant to talk about his losses throughout the European clay swing or why he hadn’t won a title this season, marking the first time since 2004 that he hadn’t prevailed at an ATP Tour event in the first four months of the year. But with his victory over Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final in Rome, Nadal was very willing to revel in the moment.

“You were asking for titles. Finally, I have a title,” said Nadal. “For me, the most important thing is feeling myself playing well and healthy, with the energy that I need. If that happens, the experience is that I’m going to fight for titles sooner or later.

“Of course, playing against Novak is always a special thing because it’s part of the history of this sport. It’s always a special feeling. Today was for me and the last couple of times have been for him, but I’m happy for the title more than winning against Novak. I am especially happy because the level was very high.”

Nadal was in top form from the first ball in Rome, dropping 13 games to reach the final and recording four 6-0 sets throughout the week. His 6-0 opening set in Sunday’s final against Djokovic marked the first time either player achieved that score in their 54 FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings. But while the opening set sent shockwaves through the Foro Italico, the Spaniard was far more pleased with his performance.

“I don’t care about winning 6-0 or 6-4, to be honest,” said Nadal. “I played a great first set in all aspects. No mistakes, playing so aggressive, changing directions. These kind of days happen, but it’s not usual and probably will not happen again.

“The first set is just an important part of the match. It showed that I was able to play at this level. That’s important for today, important for tomorrow.”

Nadal was characteristically candid about his struggles the European clay swing season, describing his semi-final loss at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters to Fabio Fognini as a “low moment” and first-round win at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell over Leonardo Mayer as “a disaster.” But the Spaniard continued to work tirelessly to find solutions and his efforts paid off in Rome.

Nadal will head to Roland Garros as the favourite to win a 12th crown in Paris. He’s made it clear with his tennis this week that it will take a top player in top form to halt him.

“Every day was a little bit better. Yesterday was probably my best match on clay so far this season before today, because today I played better than yesterday. So that’s it. I’m happy to reach that level in the last tournament before a Grand Slam,” said Nadal. “But, as I said, don’t want to talk about Grand Slams now. I never did in the past. For me, what means a lot is that every tournament is so special for me. [To] have the chance to win again here in Rome is unique.”

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Djokovic: Rafa Got The Better Of Me Today

Novak Djokovic had taken the lead in his historic FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Rafael Nadal, in large part, thanks to his backhand getting the better of Nadal’s forehand. The crosscourt matchup carried the Serbian to his 28th win in their rivalry i…

A Look Back At The 2019 Internazionali BNL d’Italia

Another incredible week at the Foro Italico has come to an end. From the world’s best playing double duty on Thursday to night sessions that extended well past midnight, fans witnessed another edition of thrilling tennis as Rafael Nadal clinched his ninth crown in Rome and a record-setting 34th ATP Masters 1000 title. Relive the best moments of the 2019 Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

Nadal Wins Ninth Rome Title… Nadal picked up his first ATP Tour title this season with a 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 win over Novak Djokovic. The opening set was the first-ever 6-0 set in 54 FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings between the pair. After three consecutive semi-final showings during the European clay swing at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell and Mutua Madrid Open,Nadal broke the streak by defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas, turning the tables after losing to the #NextGenATP Greek last week in Madrid.

Nadal was in brilliant form from the first ball in Rome. The Spaniard dropped just 13 games to reach the final and dished out four 6-0 sets throughout the week. He finished the tournament leading in service games won (41 of 43, 95%), break points saved (13 of 15, 97%) and return games won (21 of 32, 66%). 

Cabal/Farah Defend Their Crown… Third seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah successfully defended their title in Rome with a convincing 6-1, 6-3 victory over sixth seeds Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus. The Colombian duo are the first pair since Guy Forget and Yannick Noah (1986-1987) to defend their crown at this event. Cabal/Farah have been in top form during the European clay swing and also prevailed last month in Barcelona (d. Murray/Soares).

Cabal Farah

Another Big Week For Novak… Despite the loss to Rafa, Djokovic proved he’s back to top form with his tennis and resilience at the Foro Italico. The Serbian put in a heroic effort to save two match points in his quarter-final win over Juan Martin del Potro and came out on top in a grueling semi-final against Diego Schwartzman. Djokovic simply ran out of steam after spending nearly eight hours on court since Friday night, but dug deep to extend the championship match to a deciding set.

Djokovic reached his 49th ATP Masters 1000 final this week (33-16) and achieved back-to-back finals in Madrid and Rome for the third time in his career.

We Meet Again… For a second straight Saturday, Nadal and Tsitsipas squared off in an ATP Masters 1000 semi-final. But this time, Nadal had the upper hand all match against the reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion, breaking the 20-year-old Tsitsipas once in each set to advance 6-3, 6-4 and make his first clay-court final of the season.

Nadal was playing confidently, whipping his forehand crosscourt and up the line against the 6’4″ Greek, whose heavy ball, in overcast Rome conditions, didn’t travel quite as quickly as it did in the Spanish capital. But Tsitsipas left Rome feeling confident about his chances at Roland Garros, and about his clay-court season so far. The right-hander won the Millennium Estoril Open before making back-to-back semi-finals in Madrid and Rome. 

Diego’s Breakthrough… Schwartzman enjoyed two milestone moments at the Foro Italico by scoring his first Top 6 win over Kei Nishikori to reach his first Masters 1000 semi-final without dropping a set. The Argentine fell to Djokovic in three grueling sets, but won plenty of new fans with his speed and heart throughout the week. Schwartzman arrived at No. 24 in the ATP Rankings, but is projected to break back into the Top 20 on Monday.

Diego Schwartzman beats Kei Nishikori on Friday in Rome

Late-Night Thriller… No one, including Del Potro, knew what to expect as the 30-year-old returned to the ATP Tour on a full-time basis this European clay-court swing. The Argentine had played only one tournament before the stretch, in February in Delray Beach, before opting for more rehab instead of more matches.

But the more Del Potro played, the better he looked. The Argentine was clubbing winners with his forehand against Djokovic in the quarter-finals, but Del Potro was also pushing Djokovic around the court with his backhand, once a weakness many players sought to exploit. That wasn’t the case on Friday evening, however, as Del Potro smashed inside-out backhand winners and often outplayed Djokovic in baseline rallies.

The Serbian, however, saved both match points from 4/6 in the second-set tie-break and never lost belief, advancing after three hours on early Saturday morning 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-4 to beat Del Potro for the third time in Rome and the 16th time overall (16-4).

Read & Watch: Djokovic Saves Two Match Points Against Del Potro

Federer Returns To Rome… Roger Federer continued to show that he still has plenty of great clay-court tennis left in him. The 37-year-old won two matches on Thursday, defeating Joao Sousa before saving two match points to take out Borna Coric in an epic third-set tie-break. A right leg injury forced Federer to withdraw before his quarter-final against Tsitsipas, but he’ll arrive at Roland Garros with plenty of confidence after his performances in Madrid and Rome.

Manic Thursday… A wet Wednesday in Rome washed out an entire day of play, leading to a blockbuster Thursday of double-headers at the Foro Italico. All eight players who reached the quarter-finals — including Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer — had to win two matches in the same day to do so. Fernando Verdasco caused the first upset of the day, when he ousted Dominic Thiem after two hours and 44 minutes at 12:55. Less than six hours later, at 18:28, he closed out a two-hour, nine-minute win over Karen Khachanov to reach his first clay-court quarter-final since May 2012. 

Blog: Relive Manic Thursday As It Happened


Italians Cause A Stir…  On the first day of main draw action, 17-year-old #NextGenATP Italian Jannik Sinner energised his home fans with an upset win over four-time ATP Tour titlist Steve Johnson – only his second ATP Tour win and his first at the Masters 1000 level. Rome native Matteo Berrettini did the honours on day three, knocking out No. 5 and 2017 champion Alexander Zverev 7-5, 7-5 to celebrate his first Top 5 victory in front of a rocking Roman crowd. 

Read: Sinner Knows His Advantage | Berrettini’s Big Win

Berrettini in Rome

An Apology To Remember… Alexander Zverev might have lost a doubles match with brother Mischa Zverev at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, but he left the court with a lifetime fan. Zverev put away an overhead at 3-3 in the first set against Klaasen/Venus, bouncing the ball over the fence and into the crowd. At the next changeover, Zverev greeted the young fan whom the ball hit, checking on her and tying one of his headband’s around her forehead, leaving the youngster with a big smile on her face. Read More & Watch

Zverev gives a fan a headband in Rome


Nadal outlasts Djokovic for ninth Italian Open win

Rafael Nadal withstood a brave fightback from Novak Djokovic to to earn his ninth Italian Open title with a 6-0, 4-6, 6-2 victory over the world No. 1 in Rome.

Comeback Colombians: Cabal/Farah Repeat As Rome Champs

Serving at 4-3, 0/40 in the Rome doubles final on Sunday, Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah did what they’ve done all week at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia: Stayed calm and rallied.
The Colombians were down 2/7 in the Match Tie-break during their qua…

Nadal Beats Djokovic To Win Ninth Rome Title

Rafael Nadal made a clear statement on Sunday: if he is not back in top form, he is very close to it.

The World No. 2 won his ninth Internazionali BNL d’Italia title, overcoming a stern challenge from top seed Novak Djokovic to triumph at the Foro Italico 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 after two hours and 25 minutes. Nadal also broke a tie with Djokovic by claiming a record 34th ATP Masters 1000 crown.

Nadal entered his 50th Masters 1000 final pursuing his first trophy of any kind this season. It was the first time the 32-year-old entered Rome without a victory since 2004, the year he claimed his maiden tour-level crown. And the second seed’s hunger showed, moving to 9-2 in Rome finals to earn a title for the 16th consecutive year.

“What means most to me is this trophy,” Nadal said. “Rome is one of the most important tournaments of the year. [It’s a big] part of the history of our sport. To be able to win here again is the main thing.”

Djokovic, who still leads the pair’s epic FedEx ATP Head2Head series 28-26, did well to overcome the first ‘bagel’ set he has lost since the 2017 Roland Garros quarter-finals against Dominic Thiem. But it appeared that the two tough three-setters he had to go through in the quarter-finals and semi-finals against Juan Martin del Potro and Diego Schwartzman, respectively, wore on the Serbian’s legs towards the end of this clash.

“I don’t care winning 6-0 or 6-4, being honest. That is just a fact. I don’t care much,” Nadal said. “I played a great first set in all aspects. No mistakes. Playing so aggressive, changing directions. These kind of days happens. It’s not usual and probably will not happen again… the first set is just an important part of the match. What helps the first set is [that it] shows that I was able to play at that level.”

Time On Court Entering The Final

 Rafael Nadal  3:22
 Novak Djokovic  5:34

The last time they had played, in the Australian Open final, Djokovic faced only one break point. Nadal earned 17 break points in this battle, though, and that proved the difference.

“[I’m] happy for the title more than winning against Novak,” Nadal said. “I am especially happy because the level was very high.”

Djokovic had won nine of the pair’s previous 11 matches, but Nadal wasted no time taking the lead at the Foro Italico. The Serbian dropped balls shorter than usual early on, allowing Nadal to pounce and step into the court to dictate play. It appeared Nadal, who won three 6-0 sets and did not drop a set en route to the final, was the fresher man compared to Djokovic, who was throwing in poor drop shots that gave Nadal easy finishes.

In recent years, Djokovic has thrived in crosscourt rallies between his backhand and Nadal’s forehand, but the Spaniard did well to avoid those battles from the back foot, only engaging in those rallies from an offensive position. Nadal broke serve three times in the first set, earning 59 per cent of his return points in the opener.

Although Djokovic did not win a game in the first set, the two sharp crosscourt backhand winners he hit near the end of the opener showed a change of intent, which carried into the second. The Serbian began to play more aggressively, and there was more intensity in his movement on the court. After escaping a 0/40 deficit on his serve at 3-3, he would break to force a decider when Nadal missed wide at 4-5.

But this was the sixth tournament in Nadal’s career in which he won three or more ‘bagel’ sets and in the previous five, he went on to win the title. That did not change in Rome.

The second seed bounced back immediately at the start of the decider. Djokovic went for a forehand down the line facing break point, but left the ball too close to the middle of the court, allowing Nadal to seize control of the rally and eventually break with an aggressive crosscourt backhand to the Serbian’s forehand, giving him a 1-0 lead, and he never looked back.

“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. Obviously third set was not much different from the first,” Djokovic said. “I was just running out of fuel a little bit today. Just kind of missed that half a step, especially on the backhand side. He used it very well. He’s been playing some terrific tennis throughout the entire week. He was just too strong today.”

Nadal was broken just twice all week, holding in 41 of his 43 service games and saving 13 of the 15 break points he faced. For his victory, he earns 1,000 ATP Ranking points and €958,055. Djokovic takes home 600 points and €484,950.

Did You Know?
It took until the 142nd set in the pair’s epic rivalry for either player to claim a 6-0 set. 

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