It looked dull and gloomy for Rafael Nadal prior to the start of the Italian Open. But all that has been put to bed after Rafa clinched his record 9th Italian Open crown. And he did so by defeating one of his arch-rival Novak Djokovic in the final. Before this incredible title-clinching run, Nadal’s form was a bit patchy with three semi-final losses. In Monte Carlo vs Fabio Fognini, in Barcelona vs Dominic Thiem and in Madrid vs Greek sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas.
After three losses in the three successive clay tournaments, not many gave Rafa a sniff at winning the French Open. Let alone the penultimate tournament before the Grand Slam; the Italian Open. But Rafael Nadal silenced his doubters and critics by winning all these five matches. And in doing so captured the title, and once again raised hopes of a record 12th French Open crown.
It was Rafa’s first title of the year. And the manner in which he dismissed Djokovic in the final especially in the first set (dropped a bagel on the Serb) proves that the Spaniard still has in him to compete for more Grand Slam titles.
Rafa Nadal: The History Maker
After recording his 34th ATP 1000 titles, the most in tennis history (overtaking Djokovic’s 33), Rafa stated he cannot wait for Roland Garros to commence. “I am going to be there with time enough, as always. I’m going to repeat my normal routines. For sure I can’t wait to be there. To have that feeling, to see the stadium, watch all the new great things that Roland Garros is doing,” the 17-time Grand Slam winner said.
Novak Djokovic, even in defeat, graciously had words of praise for the Spaniard. “Nadal [is the] number one favourite, without a doubt and then everyone else. Despite the loss to Rafa in the final, the Serbian too has been in fine form. But with Rafael Nadal finding his mojo back, it seems a 12th French Open crown beckons for the King of Clay. Only time will tell, so let’s wait and watch!