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2011 dominance a sweet memory for Djokovic as Rafa reigns in Rome

The Spaniard beat his Serbian foe in straight sets as he ramps up performance levels ahead of the French Open.

Rafael Nadal hoists the Italian Open trophy.
Rafael Nadal hoists the Italian Open trophy.
Image: (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

RAFAEL NADAL IS back to number two in the world but his win over Novak Djokovic in the final of the Italian Open holds more significance than a mere climb up the rankings ladder.

The Spaniard put in a dominant performance to beat the world number one, Djokovic, in straight sets in Rome on Monday afternoon.

Heavy rains had delayed the final for 24 hours and Nadal looked the sharper for a day’s rest from the outset.

He was intent on securing an early break of serve but Djokovic pulled out some booming first swerves when needed.

Back and forth

The match stayed with serve until the fifth game when the Spaniard’s pressure told. His exertions were wasted soon after when his Serbian opponent secured a break of his own.

At 5-5 in the first set Nadal upped the ante and Djokovic squandered another service game, getting warned for an outburst by the umpire in the process.

An early break followed for Nadal in the second set and he served out before pinching another Djokovic service game to win 7-5, 6-3 and take home his sixth Rome title.

His record now improves to 18-14 all-time against the current world number one.

Djokovic, who is seeking a fourth consecutive Grand Slam title, now goes into the French Open having not won a clay-court title this season.

Maria Sharapova won the ladies’ event on Sunday as she defeated Li Na 4-6 6-4 7-6.

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