Nadal outlasts Djokovic for ninth Italian Open win

Tennis

Rafael Nadal withstood a brave fightback from Novak Djokovic to earn his ninth Italian Open title with a 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 victory over the world No. 1 in Rome.

The Spaniard smashed apart a tired-looking Djokovic in the opening set to record the first ever ‘bagel’ (6-0 whitewash) between the two players in their 54 contests to date.

Djokovic improved in the second and fought off four break points before finding an opportunistic break of his own in the final game to get level.

But 11-times French Open champion Nadal broke immediately in a tense decider and showed trademark tenacity to finish off his Serbian opponent who dumped a final backhand volley into the net.

The pair will start as the top two seeds for the second major of the year at Roland Garros later this month.

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