Rome, Italy (4E Sports) – Novak Djokovic captured his third Italian Masters title after rallying past world No. 1 Rafael Nadal for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory Sunday.
Djokovic earned his third title of 2014, having previously won in Indian Wells and Miami. He was playing for the first time since the recurrence of a wrist injury he suffered in a semifinal loss to Roger Federer in Monte Carlo last month.
“It’s been a great week considering where I’ve been a few weeks ago with the wrist injury,” said Djokovic, who bagged the win after two hours and 20 minutes. “Luckily for me, I played with no pain and increased the level of tennis as the week went on.”
This was the fourth meeting between the duo in the Rome final. Nadal won in 2009 and 2012, while Djokovic previously emerged victorious in 2011 before this year’s thrilling battle.
With the win, Djokovic improved to 19-22 against Nadal in their head-to-head showdown and increased his title haul to 44, tying Thomas Muster at No. 13.
“It was amazing,” added Djokovic, regarding the crowd support. “It’s something that I don’t take for granted, something I appreciate very much. I try to show them love as much as I can.”
Nadal, who fell to 3-3 in finals this year, was bidding to draw level in fifth place with Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras with 64 titles. He was coming off a win in Madrid and also won in Doha and Rio de Janeiro.
“I felt that Novak was pushing me and has a great talent to play inside the lines,” said Nadal. “I think this week is important for me. I have won 600 points. I was able to play in another final here.”
On the women’s side, Serena Williams cruised past Sara Errani, 6-3, 6-0, to capture her second straight Italian Open crown and her 60th career trophy.
Williams needed 51 minutes to take the first set but she restored order in the second, hitting 15 winners to just two unforced error to finish off the second set in just 21 minutes.