Men’s Singles Championship Match:  Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs.  Rafael Nadal (ESP)
THEIR RIVALRY IS LEGENDARY
Djokovic led their head-to-head 28:25 coming into this final. In their most recent encounter, the 2019 Australian Open, Djokovic pulverized the Spaniard. He crushed Nadal’s chance of being the only current active player to win all four majors twice. Nadal understands that his biggest rival on any surface is no longer Roger Federer, and he must bring not just his “A” game, but also complete confidence when he steps on court to have any chance of defeating the Serbian.
HELP FROM AN UNEXPECTED SOURCE
Sometimes, even the greats need a little help to win a title and Nadal got it from the rain that disrupted play earlier in the tournament and forced the top players to play two matches in one day and then daily matches up to the final. The Spaniard was brilliant in his matches; he had three consecutive matches where he won a set 6-0 and with today’s 6-0 first set against Djokovic, he stretched that streak to four matches. The Serbian was not as fortunate; he had two consecutive difficult and draining three set matches and when he arrived at the final today he was running on fumes.
NADAL DISHES UP A BAGEL
The Spaniard came out focused; he served brilliantly and protected his serve. He never gave his opponent any opportunity to break his serve. In contrast, Djokovic struggled on his serve, winning less than forty percent of his first serves and under forty-five percent of his second serves. Nadal broke him three times to win the first set at love; yet, the Serbian was not going to go down without a fight.
DJOKOVIC FIGHTS BACK
Sometimes it is better to win a set 7-5 than 6-0, because the opponent that loses a set at love always fights back if only for pride’s sake. The champion that Djokovic is would not go down without a fight and he fought for the second set, although Nadal had four opportunities to win the match in straight sets.
NADAL WOULD NOT BE DENIED
Nadal wobbled a little in the second set at a critical juncture to lose the set and it seemed all the momentum had shifted to the Serbian’s side of the court; however, never underestimate Nadal’s will to win despite his recent struggles. He shrugged off the disappointment of losing the second set and went right back to work. He protected his serve just as he had done in the first set and broke his opponent three times again to win the set and the match 6-0, 4-6, 6-1. With this victory, the king of clay claimed his ninth title in Rome and his thirty-fourth Masters’ title.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN GOING INTO ROLAND GARROS?
It helps the Spaniard to have this victory going into the French Open; however, he must not put too much weight in this victory since the Serbian was tired. However, his confidence did get a boost from this victory, which will help him in his early rounds of Roland Garros.
SOURCE OF IMAGES: Zimbio.com (Getty Images/Europe: main image Clive Brunskill- Rafael Nadal).