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Rafael Nadal defeats Novak Djokovic to make it perfect 10 in Italian Open | Rafael Nadal

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Rafael Nadal warmed up for the French Open with a battling 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 win over world No 1 Novak Djokovic as the Spaniard claimed a record-extending 10th Italian Open title in Rome on Sunday in the latest chapter of their rivalry.

After a mid-match wobble, Nadal turned up the heat in the decisive moments of his 57th meeting with top seed Djokovic – the pair’s ninth in Rome – to secure the victory over the defending champion in two hours and 49 minutes.

“I was lucky in some moments, especially against [Denis] Shapovalov,” Nadal said, referring to the last-16 match he won in a tiebreak in the decider. “And then I think I played a good tournament, I have been playing better and better, finding my rhythm on clay. I had a very positive week and I’m very happy.

“It’s amazing to have this trophy in my hands for the 10th time. It’s something impossible to imagine but it happened so I’m super happy and can’t thank my team enough.”

Nadal broke to go ahead 6-5 in a tight opening set and staved off a late comeback attempt from Djokovic to take the early advantage in the contest with a searing inside-out forehand that caught the Serbian off guard.

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Iga Swiatek double bagels Karolina Pliskova in Italian Open final


Polish teenager Iga Swiatek produced a stunning performance in the Italian Open final in Rome by beating Karolina Pliskova 6-0 6-0 in 46 minutes.

The 19-year-old reigning French Open champion lost only 13 points in the entire match and will climb into the world’s top 10 for the first time after her crushing win.

It is only the fourth time since 2000 that a WTA final has ended in a double bagel and is the shortest completed WTA final since Istanbul in 2009 when Vera Dushevina defeated Lucie Hradecka 6-0 6-1 in 41 minutes.

Ninth seed Pliskova, tournament winner in 2019, failed to win a game in a completed match for just the second time in her career. The 29-year-old, from the Czech Republic, was playing in her third consecutive final in Rome having retired in last year’s final due to a leg injury as she trailed Simona Halep 6-0 2-1.

Swiatek, who had saved two match points against Barbora Krejcikova in the third round, made only five unforced errors against Pliskova and struck 17 winners.

In contrast, Pliskova served two double faults in each of her first two service games and did not hit a winner until she was set point down after 19 minutes.

Swiatek, who lost four points in the first set and nine in the second, faced only four game points against her as she registered her third career title and first at a WTA 1000 event.

After winning the French Open at Roland Garros last autumn, Swiatek also triumphed in Adelaide in February. PA Media

Photograph: Giampiero Sposito/Rex Features

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But Djokovic, who lost to Nadal in their previous meeting in the Roland Garros final last year, pounced in the second set to race ahead 5-1 as the Spaniard’s intensity dropped and quickly levelled the match.

Second seed Nadal then saved two break points at 2-2 in the decider and fired an emphatic shot down the line to hold, before switching gears to complete the win and match Djokovic’s record of 36 ATP Masters 1000 titles.

Nadal will now target a 14th French Open crown when the grand slam begins on 30 May.

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