Italian Open Title goes to Nadal

ROME — Rafael Nadal is right back where he wants to be.

After losing in the semifinals of three straight clay-court tournaments, Nadal dominated for stretches against his longtime rival, Novak Djokovic, in a 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 win Sunday for a record-extending ninth Italian Open title.

“You were asking for titles. Finally I have a title,” Nadal told reporters. “Here we are. Important title, important moment.”

It marked the first time in an Open Era-record 54 meetings, and in their 142nd set against each other, that Nadal won a set against Djokovic without conceding a game — otherwise known as a bagel.

In all, Nadal had a career-high four bagel sets in this tournament.

“I played a great first set in all aspects. No mistakes. Playing so aggressive, changing directions,” Nadal said. “It’s not usual and probably will not happen again.”

The timing for Nadal’s return to form could not have been more opportune, as he will seek a record-extending 12th title at the French Open starting next weekend.

“Winning a title is important but for me the most important thing is (to) feel myself competitive, feel myself healthy,” Nadal said. “Then with the feeling that I am improving. I know if I’m able to reach my level you can win, you can lose, but normally I’m going to have my chances — especially on this surface.

“Now is the moment to keep going,” Nadal added.

In the women’s final, Karolina Pliskova captured the biggest clay-court trophy of her career by beating Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-4.

 

ROME — Rafael Nadal is right back where he wants to be.

After losing in the semifinals of three straight clay-court tournaments, Nadal dominated for stretches against his longtime rival, Novak Djokovic, in a 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 win Sunday for a record-extending ninth Italian Open title.

“You were asking for titles. Finally I have a title,” Nadal told reporters. “Here we are. Important title, important moment.”

It marked the first time in an Open Era-record 54 meetings, and in their 142nd set against each other, that Nadal won a set against Djokovic without conceding a game — otherwise known as a bagel.

In all, Nadal had a career-high four bagel sets in this tournament.

“I played a great first set in all aspects. No mistakes. Playing so aggressive, changing directions,” Nadal said. “It’s not usual and probably will not happen again.”

The timing for Nadal’s return to form could not have been more opportune, as he will seek a record-extending 12th title at the French Open starting next weekend.

“Winning a title is important but for me the most important thing is (to) feel myself competitive, feel myself healthy,” Nadal said. “Then with the feeling that I am improving. I know if I’m able to reach my level you can win, you can lose, but normally I’m going to have my chances — especially on this surface.

“Now is the moment to keep going,” Nadal added.

In the women’s final, Karolina Pliskova captured the biggest clay-court trophy of her career by beating Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-4.

 

“It’s always tough playing Karolina,” Konta said. “There’s rarely really a rhythm to the match. She plays with big shots, quite flat, and big serves. It can feel sometimes you’re fighting an uphill battle. That was the case today.”

Pliskova attributed a lot of her success to Conchita Martinez, the four-time Rome champion who she recently named her head coach.

“She loved clay so she knows exactly what I should do,” Pliskova said of Martinez. “There were small differences: movement, maybe to put more topspin on the balls, use drop shots — which I never use, but I start little bit, and to mix also the serves. … I know she loved this tournament. I think she prayed so I could win today.”

 

CULLED FROM:

 

http://www.msn.com/en-xl/europe/europe-sport/back-on-top-nadal-beats-djokovic-for-9th-italian-open-title/ar-AABB5Mq?li=BBQbcGp&ocid=spartanntp

 

 

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