Rome to Paris Nadal holds the ace

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Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal of Spain and Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic picked up the titles in the Rome International tournament that is the final leg in Europe’s Claycourt season, which will climax at the Grand Slam in Rolland Garros Paris.

Players departed the Foro Italico with many noticeable points. The four finalists were from Pre-Brexit Europe, whose players dominated the quarter-finals of both the men’s and women’s events.

The surprising finals match between Djokovic and Nadal was yet another chapter in a great sports rivalry.

In the men’s quarter-finals, Japan’s Nishikori, with Del Potro and Schwartzman from Argentina were the only players from outside Europe. The others were Serbia’s Djokovic, Nadal and Verdasco (Spain), Switzerland’s Federer and Tsitsipas from Greece.

In the women’s quarterfinals, we had Pliskova and Vondrousova from Czech Republic, Johanna Konta of Great Britain, Netherland’s Bertens, Greek Maria Sakkari, France’s Mladenovic, and Azarenka from Belarus.

Naomi Osaka of Japan was the only “outsider.”

The rain wash-out on Wednesday resulted in the men having to play two matches to make up the time. This took its toll on the players all the way to the finals.

Injury forced Federer to withdraw from the semi-finals match with Tsitsipas who succumbed to Nadal in straight sets the next day. Djokovic prevailed in a marathon three-setter against Del Potro on Friday and another three-setter with Schwartzman in the semi-finals and had little left in the energy tank for the finals in which he suffered his first ever 6-0 loss in the first set and the title to Nadal.

Djokovic and Nadal met for the 54th time and at the end, Nadal reduced the Djokovic edge to 28 and 26 wins respectively. Nadal won their first career clash in the quarter-finals of 2006 Roland Garros, and repeated the victory in 2007 Indian Wells, while Djokovic prevailed in Miami the same year.

In their most recent clashes, Djokovic won in the semi-finals of 2018 Wimbledon and the finals of the 2019 Australian Open.

As the players head to the Grand Finale of the Claycourt season, Djokovic will be seeded first and Nadal second. The great concern is about the fitness their bodies for the grueling five-set matches on the red dirt of Stade Rolland Garros in Paris

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