Rome, May 20:
Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 to win a ninth Italian Open title and a record 34th Masters crown on Sunday.
World number one Djokovic, winner at the Madrid Open last week, produced an error-strewn performance in his 54th meeting with second-ranked Nadal, who claimed the 81st title of his career.
Nadal overtakes Djokovic at the top of the list for Masters wins — the pair were level at 33 each before Sunday’s final — in a timely boost ahead of his assault on a 12th French Open crown in a week’s time.
After three semi-final defeats in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid, Nadal has returned to his best form ahead of Roland Garros and lifted his first title of the season.
In the women’s singles final, Czech fourth seed Karolina Pliskova swept past Britain’s Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-4 to win the WTA Italian Open.
Pliskova, the 2017 French Open semi-finalist, clinched her 13th career title, in the final major warm-up tournament on clay before Roland Garros starts on 26 May.
A break in each set was enough for the former world number one to get past Konta, sealing victory on her third match point after 85 minutes on court.
“It was a great week for me and my team. There were a couple of tough matches so I was happy to fight through them. I was a little bit nervous today, but it was my first final in Rome, so that’s to be expected,” said the 27-year-old, now coached by former Rome champion Conchita Martinez.
She had never gone past the semi-finals in her four previous appearances in Rome. Last year she exited in disgrace after smashing a hole in the umpire’s chair in a temper tantrum after losing in the second round.