Euro 2020 Special

Italian Open: Nadal Claims La Decima over Djokovic in Rome

The Italian Open 2021 delivered the dream final many were hoping for: Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal. The two all-time greats produced another epic battle, but once again, Nadal came out on top on clay as he won his record-extending 10th Rome Masters title.

Meanwhile, two of the other top men’s contenders – Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev – suffered early exits in Rome as they struggle to find their best form ahead of the French Open, which begins in a few weeks’ time.

Read on below as SBOTOP gives a complete rundown of all the major stories coming out of the men’s side of the Rome Masters.


Rafael Nadal wins 10th career Rome Masters crown

Rafael Nadal is the King of Roman clay once again. The World No. 3 faced a tough battle against old rival Novak Djokovic in the Italian Open final, but the Spanish superstar came out on top, 7-5, 1-6, 6-3.

After dropping the first set to Nadal, Djokovic dominated the second to tie up the match at 1-1. 

However, the World No. 1 failed to take advantage of two match points in the fifth game of the third set, which allowed Nadal to retain control of the set and eventually win the match.

Nadal, who was the tournament favourite according to the Italian Open 2021 betting odds, has now won the prestigious Rome Masters 10 times in his illustrious career – a tournament record. He also improved to 28-29 in his career head-to-heads against Djokovic.

“To have this trophy in my hands for the 10th time is something hard to believe,” Nadal said after the match.

“Now, 16 years later, to play in the final again is incredible. It’s difficult to describe. Without a doubt this is one of the most important places in my career.”

With his win in Rome, Nadal will now look to win his record 14th career French Open, which begins on May 30.


Dominic Thiem disappoints yet again

Dominic Thiem is once again expected to be one of the top contenders to dethrone Nadal in Paris. However, the World No. 4 did not create too many Italian Open 2021 highlights after he was knocked out in the round of 16 by Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

Austria’s Dominic Thiem in action during his Italian Open’s third round match against Lorenzo Sonego last May 13, 2021

“It’s amazing, an unbelievably emotional moment for me because I’m in Rome, in my Italy with fans for two sets,” Sonego said in his on-court interview. “I’m so happy for this victory, for this match. Thiem is with Nadal the best player on clay.”

Thiem, who also crashed out in the semi-finals of the Madrid Masters, has had a disappointing 2021 season to date. He has yet to reach a single final since losing in last year’s ATP World Tour Finals to Daniil Medvedev. He went out in straight sets in the round of 16 of the Australian Open to Grigor Dimitrov and looks far from his best heading into Roland Garros.

Although, the French Open has historically been Thiem’s top Grand Slam. He’s reached two finals in Paris back in 2018 and 2019, losing to Nadal on both occasions. So while Thiem will not be in the best of form heading into the French Open, he should not be counted out.


Daniil Medvedev’s clay-court struggles continue

Daniil Medvedev may be the current World No. 2, but he has been far from his best on clay. 

His struggles on the surface continued after he lost in straight sets to Russian compatriot – and Australian Open Cinderella story – Aslan Karatsev in the round of 32.

“I’m super happy,” Karatsev said post-match. “It was a really tough match. Against Medvedev you never know, he’s a big server. It’s tough to return, but I managed it well.”

Medvedev has yet to win a single match at the Rome Masters, dropping to 0-3 in his career.

The Russian has admitted that clay is not his favoured surface, and the results bear that out. He has a horrendous 11-20 record on clay at ATP level, the only surface where he has a losing record.

He has been even worse at the French Open, where he has yet to win a single match in four tries. And after his latest flameout in Rome, it seems unlikely that this will be the year Medvedev takes a big step toward conquering his clay-court struggles.



Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.