Rafael Nadal defeats Novak Djokovic to clinch ninth Italian Open title

By Press Association Sport staff

Rafael Nadal claimed his ninth Italian Open title as he beat Novak Djokovic in three sets on Sunday.

The defending champion triumphed 6-0 4-6 6-1 in two hours and 25 minutes in Rome.

It was the 54th meeting between world number two Nadal and one Djokovic, and the first in which either player had won a set without conceding a game.

Nadal’s first title of the year was a record 34th ATP Masters 1000 crown as the Spaniard moved one clear of Djokovic on that front.

The Serb leads their head-to-head record, 28 wins to 26.

While Nadal went into the final having not dropped a set all week, Djokovic had come through tough three-setters in each of the previous two rounds, and the former appeared the fresher on Sunday.

Rafael Nadal (right) went into the final having not dropped a set all week (Gregorio Borgia/AP)

The opening set lasted 39 minutes as Nadal broke three times and the first ‘bagel’ of their rivalry was registered, 142 sets in.

Djokovic bounced back well, securing the second set via a break in the 10th game, only to then be broken in the opening game of the decider, and Nadal remained firmly in control thereafter.