Rome Masters - Nadal regains Rome Masters title

Mon, 21 May 13:41:00 2012

Rafael Nadal regained the Rome Masters crown from Novak Djokovic with a 7-5 6-3 victory.

Rafael Nadal of Spain poses with the trophy after winning his men's singles final match against Novak Djokovic of Serbia at the Rome Masters tennis tournament in Rome - 0

The title - a record sixth in Rome for Nadal - also returned the Spaniard to No.2 in the world rankings after Roger Federer displaced him a week ago.

It is the second win in a row for Nadal over Djokovic - the last being in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters - after seven straight losses to the Serb.

The Spaniard won the tournament from 2005-2007 then in 2009 and 2010. Last year he lost in the final against Djokovic.

The match was originally scheduled for Sunday but was rained off amid a hail of plastic bottles from disgruntled fans.

There were ominous dark grey clouds drifting across the blue sky, but the threat of more rain thankfully never materialised.

Having won the toss, Djokovic's serve came under immediate fire from Nadal in a first game of supreme quality except for one shocking error from the Serb. Djokovic had to save two break points to hold.

The second game, which ultimately saw Nadal hold, exemplified the best and worst of world number one Djokovic in the match: he missed a chance with Nadal defending deep and also dispatched a clinical winner.

Two more straightforward holds followed, with the more accurate Nadal using every inch of the width of the court, before the first break. Djokovic committed an incredible error at 0-15 down, smashing into the ground on his side of the net - he would repeat the mistake in the second set - as his footwork let him down. He saved one break point before giving up his serve with a long forehand and poorly-chosen drop shot which Nadal polished off.

However he would immediately break back for 3-3, striking excellent returns before a suddenly desperate-looking Nadal sent a regulation forehand into the net.

Indeed, it was Nadal who looked shaky as the set moved with serve to 5-4 - but one crucial line call in the following game was to throw Djokovic into a funk and give fresh impetus to the Spaniard.

In a third consecutive spectacular rally, with both players throwing everything at one another, Djokovic sent a forehand on to the sideline which had Nadal worried; after the out call arrived, the umpire overruled it to see the point replayed. Djokovic was aghast as the point would have seen him claim break point - and lost the game from there.

Having smashed his racquet against a net post, he would lose the following four games. The first of them was the crucial third break, and the Serb will be incredulous that he managed to throw it away from 40-0 up.

Nadal raced to the set with a love game to hold then broke in the first game of the second set, sealing it with a blistering forehand winner.

Djokovic had a glorious opportunity to break at 0-40 up - thanks to Nadal hitting repeatedly into the net - but Nadal saved all three chances and a subsequent fourth before holding for 2-0.

Djokovic arrested his decline with some excellent winners but went 3-1 down in a competitive following game after missing chances from the baseline and sending that second smash into the ground.

The errors continued from both players - compared with a sumptuous first set - as the set went with serve until the final game. There were moments of brilliance too, with Nadal giving a masterclass at turning defence into attack and Djokovic delivering occasional flat forehand winners on to the sideline.

An exquisite lob gave Nadal a 5-3 lead and he went on to break to complete the win: after fighting back to deuce and standing advantage down while defending way behind the baseline, he saw Djokovic hit long then drift one wide for championship point.

A double fault, Djokovic's fourth of the match to Nadal's none, sealed the title.

"I am happy that I won in Rome without losing a set against the best players in the world like (Tomas) Berdych and (David) Ferrer and Djokovic," Nadal said.

"I will have this trophy in my bedroom. It is a dream. I have confidence I am playing well and this comes when I play at the right level. Hopefully I will keep playing like this."

Jonathan Symcox - on Twitter @Symco_Eurosport / Eurosport

Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account