It is safe to safe Novak had a much tougher run to the final in Rome. The rain delayed 3 set win over Monte Carlo winner Tsitsipas in the quarter finals was his best tennis of the week. Nadal found the going tough in round 16 against Shapovalov of Canada but dug deep at the end to win a deciding set tie break. Nadal in the final on Sunday flexed his Roland Garros muscles with a 3 set win over the World number one. First meeting on clay between the two since the final last year in Paris where Rafa blew Novak away. .
None of that happened here and it all started in an ultra competitive first set. Watch 1-0 Djokovic(30-15 to Nadal on his serve). Nadal a bit lethargic on that forehand at the net(normally reliable) and effectively aiming at Novak whose scoop forehand won the point. The Point of the set.3-3 on Novak’s serve game on deuce. The net play from the Serb was okay but he could have placed backhand volley much further to the corner by stepping to the left against the flight of the ball and cutting across it. The all important first break went to Nadal in typical “Vamos” fashion in the eleventh game forehand in the corner setting up break point as you can see. Nadal winning it 7-5.The second set was dominated by Djokovic breaking Nadal’s serve twice with some great shot variation. Watch 4-1 to Novak(30-30) Novak with the backhand down the line winner. Notice the standing leg from the Serb? Almost like a golf shot allowing him to lean into the shot getting direction as well as power. Second set going to Novak 6-1.
The third started competitively enough, both struggling on serve but managing to hold until the sixth game. Nadal’s famous and devastating forehand doing the trick, watch 30-30(3-2).Nadal would break to love to lead 4-2. With Nadal on top and fired up there was always going to be one winner on the Rome clay. Nadal winning the title with a final set score of 6-3.