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Nadal fends off Djokovic to land ninth Rome title


Nadal fends off Djokovic to land ninth Rome title

Rafael Nadal won a record 34th ATP Masters 1000 title with a 6-0 4-6 6-1 victory over Novak Djokovic in the Italian Open final on Sunday (May 20).

The Spaniard, who had shared the record of 33 Masters titles with the Serbian world number one, warmed up for the defence of his French Open crown by securing his ninth Rome title.

Nadal got off to a flying start by whitewashing a shellshocked Djokovic in the opening set. It was the first time there has been a 6-0 set during a meeting between the two rivals.

Djokovic took the second by breaking Nadal's serve for the first time while leading 5-4, but the second seed responded in style by storming through the decisive set. 

Earlier in the day, Czech fourth seed Karolina Pliskova swept past Britain's Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-4 to win the WTA Italian Open final.

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 May 26.

A break in each set was enough for former world number one Pliskova to get past Konta, sealing victory on her third match point after 85 minutes on court.

Top seeds Naomi Osaka and Petra Kvitova pulled out injured during the event, while Roland Garros champion Simona Halep crashed out in her opening match in Italy. 

Four-time Rome winner Serena Williams also withdrew before the second round as her return after a two-month layoff was cut short when her knee injury flared up.

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