If it is at all possible, Rafa Nadal has become an even greater favourite for the French Open. In returning to the world no.1 ranking he has yet again captured the Internazionali d’Italia in the Eternal City, Rome.
In his first final at the Foro Italico since 2014, the Spaniard won his first title in this wonderful arena since 2013. He has bounced back after losing in Madrid to beat Alexander Zverev through rain interruptions by first winning six straight games in the first set from a break down to closing the final by winning 16 of the last 19 points from 1-3 in the deciding set 6-1, 1-6, 6-3.
This is Rafa Nadal’s eighth title in Rome, that is a record and by getting back to No.1, it will be his 174th week at the top of the men’s rankings. This is his 78th career title, he breaks the tie he shared with John McEnroe and now the only people ahead of him are Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer and Ivan Lendl.
“It has been an amazing week,” Mr. Nadal said. “Such an important week to have this trophy with me again after losing in the quarter-finals in Madrid. It was unforgettable and emotional for me. It’s amazing to win eight titles in Rome. It’s a difficult event and to have the chance to win again here means a lot. This is the moment to enjoy winning here again.”
Mr. Nadal described the first set as “one of the best sets he has played on clay this year”. It is rare for Rafa to praise himself but he went on to say that set was “fantastic” and that everything worked for him; he was feeling good tactically, his returns were en point and everything he wanted to see happen, happened.
“In the second, couple of things happened. First thing I was, I believe, not like in the first game of the second set. I had a chance to have a break. Because I brought — in the 30-all, I brought a great return. He made a drop shot from nowhere, being honest. A drop shot that probably doesn’t exist. But, he make it. And he make it great,” Mr. Nadal explained.
“And then he break me, and then the things went quick. I had the chance to be – I had balls to be 3-1, but I didn’t convert it. Then I had love-30 to be 5-2 but didn’t convert it. So, the court was slower later. The beginning was hot, fast conditions, bounces higher. So, that helps a little bit more my game. And I was feeling great.
“And then the beginning of the second, it started to be much more cloudy, the game became slowly, and probably he started feeling better the ball. And I stopped doing the things that I needed to do. And lucky that I started to do it again. Not too late.”
Rain twice interrupted the men’s final and maybe, just maybe, the greater experience of the Spaniard steered him to victory in that situation. The rain was not the German’s friend.,
“No, not today, it wasn’t,” Mr. Zverev said. “It happens. You know, there’s nothing I can do about it. Next time, I have to find a way to come out better after the rain and play better tennis. He came out way faster and played much more aggressive than I did.
“And, you know, the fatigue I had over the last – because of over the last few weeks, because of the break, you know, it took me very long time to get activated again and to get going. Obviously, it wasn’t enough time.
“It just changed momentum. I was — you know, the momentum was on my side. And Rafa is somebody that if you’re not in the match and if you’re not feeling the ball well, you have no chance.
“And that’s what I felt like. I was playing great in the second and third set, in the beginning. And, you know, the break kind of put the momentum away. And, you know, if you don’t have the momentum on your side, you’re not gonna beat Rafa.”
The doubles title was won by Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah who beat Pablo Carreno Busta and Joao Sousa 3-6, 6-4, 10-4.